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Le travail des enfants et la pauvreté en Afrique : un réexamen appliqué au Burkina Faso

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Fondée sur les enquêtes prioritaires auprès des ménages de 1998 et de 2003, l'étude met en évidence l'ampleur du travail des enfants – 44,1 pour cent des enfants de 5-14 ans sont « économiquement actifs » en 2003, un ratio comparable entre les filles et les garçons, sauf pour le groupe d'âge de 10-14 ans où les premières sont désavantagées –, et examine l'impact de la pauvreté sur ce phénomène. Deux principales conclusions en résultent. Premièrement, l'hypothèse de l' « axiome de luxe » semble relativement robuste. Un modèle probit bivarié montre que, toutes choses égales par ailleurs – en particulier, en contrôlant par les effets fixes des 45 provinces –, la proportion des enfants de 5-14 ans économiquement actifs est nettement supérieure dans les ménages « pauvres », comparativement aux ménages « non pauvres ». En même temps, les privations monétaires réduisent la probabilité de scolarisation, et une relation inverse entre la fréquentation scolaire et la participation des enfants au marché du travail prévaut. De même, une analyse économétrique spatiale en termes de régimes spatio-temporels, fondée sur un modèle auto-régressif mixte inhérent aux 45 provinces, montre que la pauvreté régionale, appréhendée par les indices FGT, affecte positivement le taux régional de participation des enfants de 10-14 ans au marché du travail. Un résultat analogue prévaut en 2003 pour les enfants âgés de 5-14 ans, mais les élasticités sont un peu plus élevées. Deuxièmement, la prise en compte de la vulnérabilité des ménages, c'est-à-dire le risque de pauvreté, renforce l'argument de la « gestion du risque » : le travail des enfants peut être le reflet d'une stratégie des ménages visant à minimiser le risque d'interruption du flux des ressources. L'étude montre que la variabilité du niveau de vie, mesurée par la variance des dépenses en termes de pauvreté transitoire, rehausse la probabilité de travail des enfants, tout réduisant les chances de scolarisation, comparativement aux ménages situés en dessus de la ligne de pauvreté, alors que la vulnérabilité des familles pauvres, imputable B une faiblesse chronique des dépenses – pauvres durables –, n'affecte pas la propension au travail des enfants, et, dans certains cas, leur scolarisation, par rapport aux groupes les plus aisés. De même, l'analyse économétrique spatiale vérifie que, quels que soient les groupes d'âge retenus, la variation régionale de la pauvreté durable est sans effet sur l'incidence du travail des enfants, contrairement à la pauvreté transitoire. De tels résultats doivent être rapprochés, d'une part, de l'augmentation de la pauvreté globale entre 1998 et 2003, accompagnée d'une légère baisse de la pauvreté durable, et d'une croissance sensible de la pauvreté transitoire, et, d'autre part, de la relation étroite qui prévaut entre la variation effective de la pauvreté transitoire, et le ralentissement du rythme du processus de redistribution, via les envois de fonds de Côte d'Ivoire. En même temps, ils questionnent l'opportunité d'une législation trop sévère à l'encontre du travail des enfants, en l'absence de mécanismes susceptibles de réduire les fluctuations des gains des ménages. Based on the two household surveys of 1998 and 2003, the study highlights the extend of child labour – 44,1 percent of the children of 5-14 years are « economically active » in 2003, a comparable ratio between the girls and the boys, except for the group of age of 10-14 years where the first are more occupied –, and examines the impact of poverty on this phenomenon. Two principal conclusions result from it. Firstly, the assumption of the « luxury axiom » seems relatively robust. A bivariate probit model shows that, all things being equal – in particular, while controlling by the fixed effects of the 45 provinces –, the proportion of the children of 5-14 years economically active is definitely higher in the « poor » households, compared to the « non-poor » households. At the same time, the monetary deprivations reduce the probability of schooling, and an opposite relation between the school attendance and the child participation to the labour market prevails. In the same way, a spatial econometric analysis in terms of space-time regimes, based on a spatial lag model inherent to the 45 provinces, shows that the regional poverty, apprehended by the FGT indices, affects positively the regional rate of participation of the children of 10-14 years to the labour market. A similar result prevails in 2003 for the children of 5-14 years, but the elasticities are a little higher. Secondly, the consideration of the vulnerability of the households, i.e. the risk of poverty, reinforces the argument of the « risk management »: child work can be the reflection of a strategy of the households to minimize the risk of interruption of the resources stream. The study shows that the variability of the standard of living, measured by the variance of the expenditure in terms of transient poverty, raises the probability of child work, while reducing the chances of schooling, compared to the households above the line of poverty, whereas the vulnerability of the poor families, ascribable to a chronic weakness of the expenditure – the durable poor –, does not affect the child work propensity, and, in certain cases, their schooling, compared to the richest groups. In the same way, the spatial econometric analysis confirms that, independently of the groups of age chosen, the regional variation of durable poverty is without effect on the incidence of child work, contrary to the transient poverty. Such results must be associated, on the one hand, to the increase of total poverty between 1998 and 2003, accompanied by a weak fall of durable poverty, and by a significant growth of transient poverty, and, on the other hand, to the close connection which prevails between the effective variation of transient poverty, and the deceleration of the rhythm of the process of redistribution, via the remittances of Côte d'Ivoire. At the same time, they question the opportunity of a too severe legislation against the child work, in the absence of mechanisms likely to reduce the fluctuations of the incomes of households. (Full text in French)

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Paper provided by Groupe d'Economie du Développement de l'Université Montesquieu Bordeaux IV in its series Documents de travail with number 96.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2004
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Handle: RePEc:mon:ceddtr:96

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  1. F. Blanco & M. G. Breglia & L. Guarcello & C. Valdivia, 2008. "Violence against children:preliminary evidence from Colombia, El Salvador, Cambodia and Ecuador," UCW Working Paper 41, Understanding Children's Work (UCW Programme).

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