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An Explanation of the International Variation in the Prevalence of Child Labour

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  • Robert C. Shelburne

Abstract

It is hypothesized that the institutional acceptability of child labor will be more prevalent when the other members of a society gain from its use. Therefore, the cross-country variation in the prevalence of child labor depends on the degree to which child labor affects the welfare of the remaining members of a society. It is demonstrated theoretically that the non-child-labor factors gain from child labor when the economy is closed. As an economy becomes more open to international trade, those gains diminish and even turn negative as the size of the economy increases. Child labor will not exist in capital abundant countries since, in them, child labor makes the non-child-labor factors worse off. It is shown empirically that the cross-country prevalence of child labor falls with increases in a nation's per capita income, its openness to trade, and its economic size. It is argued that trade sanctions, as a remedy for child labor, may be counter-productive since an open economy reduces the benefits of child labor to the other members of a society, and thereby reduces the society's incentive to allow child labor. The model also demonstrates that the economic changes brought on by democracy undermine the practice of child labor. Copyright Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2001.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert C. Shelburne, 2001. "An Explanation of the International Variation in the Prevalence of Child Labour," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(3), pages 359-378, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:worlde:v:24:y:2001:i:3:p:359-378
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Muhammad Nawaz & Muhammad Nasir & Amanat Ali & Waheed Chaudhry, 2011. "Trade Liberalization and Child Labor: A Case Study of Pakistan," Transition Studies Review, Springer;Central Eastern European University Network (CEEUN), vol. 18(2), pages 361-376, December.
    2. Busse, Matthias, 2002. "Do Labor Standards Affect Comparative Advantage in Developing Countries?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(11), pages 1921-1932, November.
    3. Edmonds, Eric V. & Pavcnik, Nina, 2006. "International trade and child labor: Cross-country evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 115-140, January.
    4. Justina A.V. Fischer & Frank Somogyi, 2009. "Globalization and Protection of Employment," KOF Working papers 09-238, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    5. repec:dau:papers:123456789/6264 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Subhayu Bandyopadhyay & Sudeshna C. Bandyopadhyay, 2009. "Trade and Child Labor: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Emerging Markets Finance and Trade, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(1), pages 5-18, January.
    7. Neumayer, Eric & de Soysa, Indra, 2005. "Trade Openness, Foreign Direct Investment and Child Labor," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 43-63, January.
    8. Eric V. Edmonds & Nina Pavcnik & Petia Topalova, 2010. "Trade Adjustment and Human Capital Investments: Evidence from Indian Tariff Reform," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 42-75, October.
    9. Ebeke, Christian Hubert, 2012. "The power of remittances on the international prevalence of child labor," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 452-462.
    10. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:30:y:2010:i:1:p:351-364 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Shunsuke Sakamoto, 2006. "Parental Attitudes toward Children and Child Labor: Evidence from Rural India," Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series d05-136, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    12. Busse, Matthias, 2004. "On the determinants of core labour standards: the case of developing countries," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 211-217, May.
    13. Nguyen, Cuong & Nguyen, Hoa, 2013. "Do Internal and International Remittances Matter to Health, Education and Labor of Children? The Case of Vietnam," MPRA Paper 48672, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. repec:wsi:wschap:9789812798091_0017 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Christian Hubert Ebeke, 2010. "The Effect of Remittances on Child Labor: Cross-Country Evidence," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 30(1), pages 351-364.
    16. 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..
    17. Busse, Matthias & Braun, Sebastian, 2004. "Export Structure, FDI and Child Labour," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 19, pages 804-829.
    18. Nguyen, Cuong Viet & Nguyen, Hoa Quynh, 2015. "Do internal and international remittances matter to health, education and labor of children and adolescents? The case of Vietnam," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 28-34.
    19. Kucera, David. & Sarna, Ritash., 2004. "Child labour, education and export performance," ILO Working Papers 993742353402676, International Labour Organization.
    20. Subhayu Bandyopadhyay & Sudeshna C. Bandyopadhyay, 2009. "Trade and Child Labor: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Emerging Markets Finance and Trade, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 45(1), pages 5-18, January.
    21. repec:ilo:ilowps:374235 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Alessandro Maffei & Nikolai Raabe & Heinrich W. Ursprung, 2006. "Political Repression and Child Labour: Theory and Empirical Evidence," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(2), pages 211-239, February.
    23. Leonardo Becchetti & Giovanni Trovato, 2005. "The Determinants of Child Labour: The Role of Primary Product Specialization," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 19(2), pages 237-271, June.

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