Parental altruism and child labor: examining the historical evidence from the United States
Parsons and Goldin (in Econ Inq 637–659, 1989) use the US Commissioner of Labor Survey of (1890) to argue that many American parents sacrificed the future earnings of their children by sending them to work rather than to school. We analyze the same data and argue that parental choices were dictated by constraints rather than the desire to exploit child labor opportunities. We also find significant income effects on child labor supply, indicating that affluence played an important part in the decline of child labor. The coexistence of positive assets with child labor is not inconsistent with parental altruism, indicating instead a failure of perfect two-sided altruism.
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Volume (Year): 6 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 (October)
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