The effect of child labor on mathematics and language achievement in Latin America
AbstractThe authors use a unique data set on language, and mathematics test scores for third, and fourth graders in eleven different Latin American countries, to determine whether child labor raises or lowers school achievement. Their findings are amazingly consistent across countries. In every country, child labor lowers performance on tests of language and mathematics proficiency, even when controlling for school and household attributes. The magnitude of the effect is similar to the percentage reduction in adult wages from child labor reported by Ilahi, Sedlacek and Orazem. The adverse impact of child labor on test performance is larger when children work regularly, rather than occasionally. Even modest levels of child labor at early ages cause adverse consequences for the development of cognitive abilities. These findings strongly refute the presumptions that child labor may be neutral, or complementary to academic performance, provided that the child remains enrolled in school. Instead, child labor consistently makes a year of education less productive in the generation of human capital.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by The World Bank in its series Social Protection Discussion Papers with number 32747.
Date of creation: 01 May 2005
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