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Malnutrition and Child Labor


  • Garance Genicot


In pre-industrial and developing economies, it is common to find (i) entire families, including children, working together in family farms or urban factories; and (ii) a positive link between a person's consumption and her productivity. This paper argues that there is a natural reason for the concurrence of (i) and (ii). As a rule, households are characterized by intra-household altruism: an increase in the income of an individual increases the consumption of all household members. Hence, when an employer pays an adult worker a high wage to enhance her productivity, part of it ends up augmenting her children's consumption and productivity. One way for the employer to prevent this leakage and internalize the externality is to employ the children as well. This explains the higher incidence of family labor in poor societies where (ii) is more likely to be true. Copyright The editors of the "Scandinavian Journal of Economics", 2005 .

Suggested Citation

  • Garance Genicot, 2005. "Malnutrition and Child Labor," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 107(1), pages 83-102, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:scandj:v:107:y:2005:i:1:p:83-102

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Edmonds, Eric V., 2008. "Child Labor," Handbook of Development Economics, Elsevier.
    2. Elias Dinopoulos & Laixun Zhao, 2007. "Child Labor and Globalization," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 553-579.
    3. Drusilla K. Brown & Alan V. Deardorff & Robert M. Stern, 2009. "The Effects of Multinational Production on Wages and Working Conditions in Developing Countries," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Globalization And International Trade Policies, chapter 17, pages 623-687 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    4. Basu, Kaushik & Felkey, Amanda, 2004. "A Theory of Efficiency Wage with Community-Based Income Sharing," Working Papers 04-10, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
    5. Nigar Hashimzade & Uma Kambhampati, 2010. "Growth and Inverted U in Child Labour: A Dual Economy Approach," Economics & Management Discussion Papers em-dp2009-07, Henley Business School, Reading University.
    6. Kaushik Basu & Amanda J. Felkey, 2009. "A theory of efficiency wage with multiple unemployment equilibria: how a higher minimum wage law can curb unemployment," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(3), pages 494-516, July.
    7. Goto, Hideaki, 2011. "Social norms, inequality and child labor," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 806-814.

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