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Abstinence from child labor and profit seeking

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  • Davies, Ronald B.

Abstract

Some firms voluntarily abstain from using child labor, presumably in response to concerns about the welfare of overseas child workers. These firms do not, however, support banning the imports of competitors’ products manufactured with child labor. As an explanation of this seemingly contradictory behavior, I consider a setting in which two firms engage in Bertrand competition for consumers who vary in the value they place on goods made without child labor. When the firms differentiate themselves according to their labor input, both enjoy greater profits. If imports using child labor are banned, this reduces the profits of both firms. Similar results can also arise in a many firm setting. If charitable donations to education foundations raise the cost of child labor, this too can arise as a purely profitseeking activity by adult labor firms. Thus, while the adult-labor firms engage in seemingly altruistic behavior, they may do so not out of regard for children but rather for their own profits.
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Suggested Citation

  • Davies, Ronald B., 2005. "Abstinence from child labor and profit seeking," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 251-263, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:76:y:2005:i:1:p:251-263
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Matthias Doepke & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2010. "Do international labor standards contribute to the persistence of the child-labor problem?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 1-31, March.
    2. Edmonds, Eric V., 2008. "Child Labor," Handbook of Development Economics, in: T. Paul Schultz & John A. Strauss (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 57, pages 3607-3709, Elsevier.
    3. Fanelli, Domenico, 2010. "The Role of Socially Concerned Consumers in the Coexistence of Ethical and Standard Firms," MPRA Paper 20117, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Baland, Jean-Marie & Duprez, Cédric, 2007. "Are Fair Trade Labels Effective Against Child Labour?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6259, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Patrice Cassagnard & Tendai Espinosa, 2019. "From Boycott to Buycott: Is Activism from the North Good for the South?," Working Papers hal-02623685, HAL.
    6. Basu, Kaushik & Zarghamee, Homa, 2009. "Is product boycott a good idea for controlling child labor? A theoretical investigation," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 217-220, March.
    7. Vasileiou, Efi & Georgantzís, Nikolaos, 2015. "An experiment on energy-saving competition with socially responsible consumers: Opening the black box," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 1-10.
    8. Simone D'Alessandro & Domenico Fanelli, 2015. "The Role of Income Distribution in the Diffusion of Corporate Social Responsibility," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(2), pages 187-212, May.
    9. Patrice CASSAGNARD & Tendai ESPINOSA, 2019. "From Boycott to Buycott: Is Activism from the North Good for the South?," Working Papers 2019-2020_3, CATT - UPPA - Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, revised Dec 2019.
    10. Etilé, Fabrice & Teyssier, Sabrina, 2013. "Corporate social responsibility and the economics of consumer social responsibility," Review of Agricultural and Environmental Studies - Revue d'Etudes en Agriculture et Environnement (RAEStud), Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), vol. 94(2).
    11. Fanelli, Domenico, 2008. "A Two-Stage Duopoly Game with Ethical Labeling and Price Competition when Consumers differ in Preferences," MPRA Paper 11544, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Liu, Zugang (Leo) & Anderson, Trisha D. & Cruz, Jose M., 2012. "Consumer environmental awareness and competition in two-stage supply chains," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 218(3), pages 602-613.
    13. Koenig-Archibugi, Mathias, 2017. "Does transnational private governance reduce or displace labor abuses? Addressing sorting dynamics across global supply chains," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 83517, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    14. Baland, Jean-Marie & Duprez, Cédric, 2009. "Are labels effective against child labor?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(11-12), pages 1125-1130, December.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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