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Product boycott a good idea for controlling child labor? A theoretical investigation

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Author Info

  • Kaushik Basu

    ()
    (Cornell University)

  • Homa Zarghamee

    ()
    (Santa Clara University, Santa Clara)

Abstract

A popular form of action to curb child labor and uphold international labor standards in general is a `product boycott' by consumers. There are labeling agencies that inform us if, for instance, a carpet or a hand-stitched soccer ball is free of child labor. The presence of a consumer boycott will typically mean that products tainted by child labor will command a lower price on the market than ones certified to be untainted. It is popularly presumed that such consumer activism is desirable. The paper formally investigates this presumption and shows that consumer product boycotts can, in a wide class of situations, have an adverse reaction that causes child labor to rise rather than fall. This happens under weak and plausible assumptions. Hence, there has to be much greater caution in the use of consumer activism, and one has to have much more detailed information about the context where child labor occurs, before using a boycott.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India in its series Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers with number 08-09.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: May 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ind:isipdp:08-09

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Related research

Keywords: child labor; product boycott; labor standards;

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References

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  1. 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.
  2. Ranjan, Priya, 2001. "Credit constraints and the phenomenon of child labor," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 81-102, February.
  3. Sylvain E. Dessy & Stéphane Pallage, 2005. "A Theory of the Worst Forms of Child Labour," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 68-87, 01.
  4. Arnab K. Basu & Nancy H. Chau & Ulrike Grote, 2006. "Guaranteed Manufactured without Child Labor: The Economics of Consumer Boycotts, Social Labeling and Trade Sanctions," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(3), pages 466-491, 08.
  5. Patrick M. Emerson & Shawn D. Knabb, 2007. "Fiscal Policy, Expectation Traps, And Child Labor," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(3), pages 453-469, 07.
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  8. Elias Dinopoulos & Laixun Zhao, 2006. "Child Labor and Globalization," Discussion Paper Series 198, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University.
  9. Matthias Doepke & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2005. "The macroeconomics of child labor regulation," Staff Report 354, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  10. Basu, Kaushik & Van, Pham Hoang, 1998. "The Economics of Child Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 412-27, June.
  11. Jafarey, Saqib & Lahiri, Sajal, 2002. "Will trade sanctions reduce child labour?: The role of credit markets," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 137-156, June.
  12. Davies, Ronald B., 2005. "Abstinence from child labor and profit seeking," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 251-263, February.
  13. Dirk Krueger & Jessica Tjornhom Donohue, 2004. "On the Distributional Consequences of Child Labor Legislation," NBER Working Papers 10347, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Harald Grossmann & Jochen Michaelis, 2007. "Trade Sanctions and the Incidence of Child Labor," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(1), pages 49-62, 02.
  15. Baland, Jean-Marie & Duprez, Cédric, 2007. "Are Fair Trade Labels Effective Against Child Labour?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6259, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Uma Kambhampati, 2004. "Does Child Work Decrease with Parental Income?: The Luxury Axiom Revisited in India," Economics & Management Discussion Papers em-dp2004-02, Henley Business School, Reading University.
  17. Jean-Marie Baland & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Is Child Labor Inefficient?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 663-679, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Matthias Doepke & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2010. "Do international labor standards contribute to the persistence of the child-labor problem?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 1-31, March.

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