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School Attendance And Child Labor—A Model Of Collective Behavior

  • Holger Strulik

This paper theoretically investigates how community approval or disapproval affects school attendance and child labor and how aggregate behavior of the community feeds back towards the formation and persistence of an anti- (or pro-) schooling norm. The proposed community-model continues to take aggregate and idiosyncratic poverty into account as an important driver of low school attendance and child labor. But it provides also an explanation for why equally poor villages or regions can display different attitudes towards schooling. Distinguishing between three different modes of child time allocation, school attendance, work, and leisure, the paper shows how the time costs of schooling and child labor productivity contribute to the existence of a locally stable anti-schooling norm. It proposes policies that effectively exploit the social dynamics and initiate a permanent escape from the anti-schooling equilibrium. An extension of the model explores how an education contingent subsidy paid to the poorest families of a community manages to initiate a bandwagon effect towards "education for all". The optimal mechanism design of such a targeted transfer program is investigated.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/jeea.12008
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Article provided by European Economic Association in its journal Journal of the European Economic Association.

Volume (Year): 11 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 (04)
Pages: 246-277

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Handle: RePEc:bla:jeurec:v:11:y:2013:i:2:p:246-277
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  17. Matthias Doepke & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2005. "The macroeconomics of child labor regulation," Staff Report 354, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  18. Luis Felipe López Calva, 2002. "A social stigma model of child labor," Estudios Económicos, El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Económicos, vol. 17(2), pages 193-217.
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  25. Louis Kaplow, 1991. "A Note on Taxation as Social Insurance for Uncertain Labor Income," NBER Working Papers 3708, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  27. Thomas J. Nechyba, 1999. "Social Approval, Values, and AFDC: A Re-Examination of the Illegitimacy Debate," NBER Working Papers 7240, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Palivos, Theodore, 2001. "Social norms, fertility and economic development," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 25(12), pages 1919-1934, December.
  29. T. Paul Schultz, 2001. "School Subsidies for the Poor: Evaluating the Mexican Progresa Poverty Program," Working Papers 834, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
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  31. Priya Ranjan, 2004. "Why Children Work, Attend School, or Stay Idle: Theory and Evidence," Econometric Society 2004 Australasian Meetings 362, Econometric Society.
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