Exploitation, Altruism, and Social Welfare: An Economic Exploration
AbstractChild labor is often condemned as a form of exploitation. I explore how the notion of exploitation, as used in everyday language, can be made precise in economic models of child labor. Exploitation is defined relative to a specific social welfare function. I first show that under the standard dynastic social welfare function, which is commonly applied to intergenerational models, child labor is never exploitative. In contrast, under an inclusive welfare function, which places additional weight on the welfare of children, child labor is always exploitative. Neither welfare function captures the more gradual distinctions that common usage of the term exploitation allows. I resolve this conflict by introducing a welfare function with minimum altruism, in which child labor in a given family is judged relative to a specific social standard. Under this criterion, child labor is exploitative only in families where the parent (or guardian) displays insufficient altruism towards the child. I argue that this welfare function best captures the conventional concept of exploitation and has useful properties for informing political choices regarding child labor.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7449.
Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2013
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page: http://www.iza.org
Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Other versions of this item:
- Doepke, Matthias, 2013. "Exploitation, Altruism, and Social Welfare: An Economic Exploration," CEPR Discussion Papers 9509, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
- D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy
- J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
- J47 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Coercive Labor Markets
- J80 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - General
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-06-30 (All new papers)
- NEP-DEM-2013-06-30 (Demographic Economics)
- NEP-EVO-2013-06-30 (Evolutionary Economics)
- NEP-HME-2013-06-30 (Heterodox Microeconomics)
- NEP-SOC-2013-06-30 (Social Norms & Social Capital)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Barro, Robert J., 1974.
"Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?,"
3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Doepke, Matthias & Krüger, Dirk, 2007.
"Origins and Consequences of Child Labor Restrictions: A Macroeconomic Perspective,"
IZA Discussion Papers
3259, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Matthias Doepke, . "Origins and Consequences of Child Labor Restrictions: A Macroeconomic Perspective," UCLA Economics Online Papers 413, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Doepke, Matthias & Krüger, Dirk, 2006. "Origins and Consequences of Child Labour Restrictions: A Macroeconomic Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 5953, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Matthias Doepke & Dirk Krueger, 2006. "Origins and Consequences of Child Labor Restrictions: A Macroeconomic Perspective," NBER Working Papers 12665, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Bernheim, B Douglas, 1989. "Intergenerational Altruism, Dynastic Equilibria and Social Welfare," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(1), pages 119-28, January.
- Basu, Kaushik & Zarghamee, Homa, 2009. "Is product boycott a good idea for controlling child labor? A theoretical investigation," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 217-220, March.
- Kimball, Miles S., 1987. "Making sense of two-sided altruism," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 301-326, September.
- Matthias Doepke, 2001.
"Accounting for Fertility Decline During the Transition to Growth,"
UCLA Economics Working Papers
804, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Matthias Doepke, 2004. "Accounting for Fertility Decline During the Transition to Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 347-383, 09.
- Schoonbroodt, Alice & Tertilt, Michele, 2010. "Property rights and efficiency in OLG models with endogenous fertility," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 1020, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
- Horrell Sara & Humphries Jane, 1995. "The Exploitation of Little Children: Child Labor and the Family Economy in the Industrial Revolution," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 485-516, October.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.