Child labor : cause, consequence, and cure, with remarks on International Labor Standards
AbstractAt least 120 million of the world's children aged 5 to 14 worked full-time in 1995, most of them under hazardous, unhygienic conditions, for more than 10 hours a day. This is an old problem worldwide but particularly so in Third World countries in recent decades. What has changed, with globalization, is our awareness of these child laborers. (The International Labor Organization distinguishes between"child work,"which could include light household chores and could have some learning value, and"child labor,"a pejorative phrase.) By bringing together the main theoretical ideas, the author hopes to encourage both more theoretical research and empirical work with a better theoretical foundation. Among other things, the author observes that: a) The problem is most serious in Africa, where the child-labor participation rate is 26.2 percent. The rate is 12.8 percent in Asia. But since 1950, the trend is a decline in that participation rate worldwide. For most Latin American countries, the decline is notable but less marked than in Asia. In large parts of Africa, including Ethiopia, the problem has been extremely persistent, but even there the trend is downward. b) Child labor has not always been considered evil, and there is no consensus on why it began to decline. In some (not all) countries legislative acts declared it illegal, in some there were rules about compulsory education, and increasing prosperity generally made families less likely to experience poverty if their children weren't working. c) Mandating compulsory education is regarded as more effective than outlawing child labor, because attendance at school is easier to monitor, but some experts believe economic progress is the answer to the problem. The justification for many interventions is that the state is more concerned about the well-being of children than parents are; the author believes such an assumption to be wrong when child labor occurs as a mass phenomenon rather than as isolated abuse. The author argues that, in some economies, the market for labor may exhibit multiple equilibria, with one equilibrium having low adult wage and a high incidence of child labor and another equilibrium exhibiting high adult wage and no child labor. The model is used to provide a framework for analyzing the role of international labor standards.
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 The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2027.
Date of creation: 31 Dec 1998
Date of revision:
Labor Standards; Children and Youth; Street Children; Labor Policies; Environmental Economics&Policies; Street Children; Children and Youth; Youth and Governance; Labor Standards; Educational Policy and Planning;
Other versions of this item:
- 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.
- J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
- O15 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
- J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
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.:
- Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993.
"Occupational Choice and the Process of Development,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-98, April.
- Abhijit V. Banerjee & Andrew F. Newman, 1990. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Discussion Papers 911, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- Glomm, Gerhard, 1997. "Parental choice of human capital investment," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 99-114, June.
- Strauss, John & Thomas, Duncan, 1995. "Human resources: Empirical modeling of household and family decisions," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 34, pages 1883-2023 Elsevier.
- Douglas A. Galbi, 1997. "Child labor and the division of labor in the early English cotton mills," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 357-375.
- Peter Jensen & Helena Skyt Nielsen, 1997.
"Child labour or school attendance? Evidence from Zambia,"
Journal of Population Economics,
Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 407-424.
- Jensen, P. & Nielsen, H.S., 1996. "Child Labour or School Attendance? Evidence from Zambia," Papers 96-14, Centre for Labour Market and Social Research, Danmark-.
- Baland, J.M. & Robinson, J.A., 1998.
"A Model of Child Labor,"
206, Notre-Dame de la Paix, Sciences Economiques et Sociales.
- Basu, Kaushik & Foster, James E, 1998.
"On Measuring Literacy,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(451), pages 1733-49, November.
- Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1988.
"Income Distribution and Macroeconomics,"
51644, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Sep 1989.
- Gupta, Manash Ranjan, 2000. "Wage Determination of a Child Worker: A Theoretical Analysis," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(2), pages 219-28, June.
- George Psacharopoulos & Harry Anthony Patrinos, 1997. "Family size, schooling and child labor in Peru - An empirical analysis," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 387-405.
- Folbre, Nancy, 1986. "Hearts and spades: Paradigms of household economics," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 245-255, February.
- Francois, Patrick, 1998. "Gender discrimination without gender difference: theory and policy responses," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 1-32, April.
- Margo, Robert A. & Aldrich Finegan, T., 1996.
"Compulsory schooling legislation and school attendance in turn-of-the century America: A 'natural experiment' approach,"
Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 103-110, October.
- Robert A. Margo & T. Aldrich Finegan, 1996. "Compulsory Schooling Legislation and School Attendance in Turn-of-the-Century America: A "Natural Experiment" Approach," NBER Historical Working Papers 0089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Drusilla K. Brown, 1998. "A Transactions Cost Politics Analysis of International Child Labor Standards," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 9819, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
- Levy, Victor, 1985. "Cropping Pattern, Mechanization, Child Labor, and Fertility Behavior in a Farming Economy: Rural Egypt," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(4), pages 777-91, July.
- Parsons, Donald O & Goldin, Claudia, 1989. "Parental Altruism and Self-Interest: Child Labor among Late Nineteenth-Century American Families," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 27(4), pages 637-59, October.
- Browning, Martin & Francois Bourguignon & Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Valerie Lechene, 1994.
"Income and Outcomes: A Structural Model of Intrahousehold Allocation,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1067-96, December.
- Browning, M. & Bourguignon, F. & Chiappori, P.A. & Lechene, V., 1992. "Incomes and Outcomes: A structural Model of Intra-Household Allocation," DELTA Working Papers 92-23, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
- Strauss, J. & Thomas, D., 1995. "Empirical Modeling of Household and Family Decisions," Papers 95-12, RAND - Reprint Series.
- Thomas, D., 1989.
"Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach,"
586, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
- Duncan Thomas, 1990. "Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 635-664.
- Douglas Kruse & Douglas Mahony, 1998. "Illegal Child Labor in the United States: Prevalence and Characteristics," NBER Working Papers 6479, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Carol Ann Rogers & Kenneth A. Swinnerton, 1999.
"The Economics of Child Labor: Comment,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1382-1385, December.
- Ray, R., 1998.
"Analysis of Child Labour in Peru and Pakistan: a Comparative Study,"
1998-05, Tasmania - Department of Economics.
- Ranjan Ray, 2000. "Analysis of child labour in Peru and Pakistan: A comparative study," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 3-19.
- Sonia Bhalotra, 2003. "Child Labour in Africa," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 4, OECD Publishing.
- Nardinelli, Clark, 1984. "The productivity of corporal punishment : A reply to MacKinnon and Johnson," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 224-228, April.
- Jacoby, Hanan G & Skoufias, Emmanuel, 1997. "Risk, Financial Markets, and Human Capital in a Developing Country," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 311-35, July.
- MacKinnon, Mary & Johnson, Paul, 1984. "The case against productive whipping," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 218-223, April.
- Bina Agarwal, 1997. "''Bargaining'' and Gender Relations: Within and Beyond the Household," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(1), pages 1-51.
- Udry, Christopher, 1996. "Gender, Agricultural Production, and the Theory of the Household," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 1010-46, October.
- Moehling, Carolyn M., 1999. "State Child Labor Laws and the Decline of Child Labor," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 72-106, January.
- George Psacharopoulos, 1997. "Child labor versus educational attainment Some evidence from Latin America," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 377-386.
- Rosenzweig, Mark R & Evenson, Robert E, 1977. "Fertility, Schooling, and the Economic Contribution of Children in Rural India: An Econometric Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(5), pages 1065-79, July.
- Ljungqvist, Lars, 1993. "Economic underdevelopment : The case of a missing market for human capital," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 219-239, April.
- 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.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.