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The Macroeconomics of Child Labor Regulation

  • Matthias Doepke
  • Fabrizio Zilibotti

We develop a positive theory of the adoption of child labor laws. Workers who compete with children in the labor market support a child labor ban, unless their own working children provide a large fraction of family income. Fertility decisions lock agents into specific political preferences, and multiple steady states can arise. The introduction of child labor laws can be triggered by skill-biased technological change, which induces parents to choose smaller families. The theory can account for the observation that, in Britain, regulations were first introduced after a period of rising wage inequality, and coincided with rapid fertility decline.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 95 (2005)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 1492-1524

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:95:y:2005:i:5:p:1492-1524
Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282805775014425
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