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Why Banning the Worst Forms of Child Labour Would Hurt Poor Countries

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  • Dessy, Sylvain
  • Pallage, Stéphane

Abstract

Although it is intuitive and morally compelling that the worst forms of child labour should be eliminated, banning them in poor countries is unlikely to be welfare improving and can come at the expense of human capital accumulation. We show that the existence of harmful forms of child labour, in fact, has an economic role: it helps keep wages for child labour high enough to allow human capital accumulation. Therefore, unless appropriate mechanisms are designed to mitigate the decline in child labour wages caused by reduced employment options for children, a ban on harmful forms of child labour will likely prove undesirable in poor countries. We perform our analysis within a simple two-period model of parental investment in children's education and nutritional quality.

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Paper provided by Université Laval - Département d'économique in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 0109.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:lvl:laeccr:0109

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Keywords: Child labour; Human capital; Nutrition; Development;

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  1. Dessy, Sylvain E. & Pallage, Stephane, 2001. "Child labor and coordination failures," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 469-476, August.
  2. Stephane Pallage & Christian Zimmermann, 2000. "Buying Out Child Labor?," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 123, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  3. Daniel Chen & Michael Kremer, 1999. "Income-Distribution Dynamics with Endogenous Fertility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 155-160, May.
  4. Kaushik Basu, 1999. "Child Labor: Cause, Consequence, and Cure, with Remarks on International Labor Standards," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1083-1119, September.
  5. Glewwe, P. & Jacoby, H., 1993. "Delayed Primary School Enrollment and Childhood Malnutrition in Ghana, an Economic Analysis," Papers 98, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
  6. Dessy, Sylvain E., 2000. "A defense of compulsive measures against child labor," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 261-275, June.
  7. Behrman, Jere R, 1996. "The Impact of Health and Nutrition on Education," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 11(1), pages 23-37, February.
  8. Harold Alderman & Jere R. Behrman & Victor Lavy & Rekha Menon, 2001. "Child Health and School Enrollment: A Longitudinal Analysis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(1), pages 185-205.
  9. Basu, Kaushik & Van, Pham Hoang, 1998. "The Economics of Child Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 412-27, June.
  10. Canagarajah, Sudharshan & Coulombe, Harold, 1997. "Child labor and schooling in Ghana," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1844, The World Bank.
  11. Jere Behrman & Victor Lavy, . "Child Health and Schooling Achievement: Association, Causality and Household Allocations," CARESS Working Papres 97-23, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  12. 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.
  13. Glomm, Gerhard, 1997. "Parental choice of human capital investment," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 99-114, June.
  14. Basu, Kaushik, 2000. "The Intriguing Relation between Adult Minimum Wage and Child Labour," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(462), pages C50-61, March.
  15. Kremer, Michael & Chen, Daniel L, 2002. " Income Distribution Dynamics with Endogenous Fertility," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 227-58, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Sylvain Dessy & Stéphane Pallage, 2003. "The Economics of Child Trafficking," Cahiers de recherche 0323, CIRPEE.
  2. Sylvain Dessy & Stephane Pallage, 2002. "Fertility, Education, and Market Failures," Journal of African Development, African Finance and Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 71-85.

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