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Voting with Your Children: A Positive Analysis of Child Labor Laws

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  • Matthias Doepke

    (UCLA)

  • Fabrizio Zilibotti

    (UCL)

Abstract

We develop a positive theory of the adoption of child-labour regulation, based on two key mechanisms. First, parental decisions on family size interact with their preferences for child-labour regulation. Second, the supply of child labour affects skilled and unskilled wages. If policies are endogenous, multiple steady-states with different child-labour policies can exist. The model is consistent with international evidence on the incidence of child labour. In particular, it predicts a positive correlation between child labour, fertility and inequality across countries of similar income per capita. The model also predicts that the political support for regulation should increase if a rising skill premium induces parents to choose smaller families. A calibration of the model shows that it can replicate features of the history of the UK in the 19th Century, when regulations were introduced after a period of rising wage inequality, and coincided with rapidly declining fertility and rising educational levels.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by UCLA Department of Economics in its series UCLA Economics Working Papers with number 828.

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Date of creation: 01 Feb 2003
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Handle: RePEc:cla:uclawp:828

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Web page: http://www.econ.ucla.edu/

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Cited by:
  1. Antonio Ciccone & Giovanni Peri, 2003. "Skills’ Substitutability and Technological Progress: U.S. States 1950-1990," CESifo Working Paper Series 1024, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Ahmed S. Rahman & Alan M. Taylor, 2007. "Trade, Knowledge, and the Industrial Revolution," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp219, IIIS.
  3. Kevin H. O'Rourke, Ahmed S. Rahman and Alan M. Taylor, 2008. "Luddites and the Demographic Transition," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp266, IIIS.
  4. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri, 2002. "Technological Progress and Economic Transformation," Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports 3, Economie d'Avant Garde.
  5. Kaushik Basu, 2004. "Child labor and the Law: Notes on Possible Pathologies," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2052, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.

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