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The impact of child labor on schooling outcomes in Nicaragua


  • Buonomo Zabaleta, Mariela


Child labor is considered a key obstacle to reaching the international commitments of Education For All. However, the empirical evidence on the effects of child labor on educational attainments is mostly limited to static measurements. This paper assesses the consequences of child labor on schooling outcomes over time by employing a three-year longitudinal household data set from Nicaragua. The potential endogeneity of past child labor and school outcomes is addressed through instrumental variables. The time a child dedicates to work is found to have harmful consequences on subsequent educational achievements, even after controlling for previous human capital accumulation and other factors. In particular, working over three hours a day is associated with school failure in the medium term. A distinction by type of work shows that time spent in market production has larger negative effects on school outcomes than time spent performing household chores.

Suggested Citation

  • Buonomo Zabaleta, Mariela, 2011. "The impact of child labor on schooling outcomes in Nicaragua," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1527-1539.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:30:y:2011:i:6:p:1527-1539 DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2011.08.008

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Heady, Christopher, 2003. "The Effect of Child Labor on Learning Achievement," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 385-398, February.
    2. John Fitzgerald & Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1998. "An Analysis of Sample Attrition in Panel Data: The Michigan Panel Study of Income Dynamics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(2), pages 251-299.
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    4. Jean-Marie Baland & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Is Child Labor Inefficient?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 663-679, August.
    5. Hideo Akabayashi & George Psacharopoulos, 1999. "The trade-off between child labour and human capital formation: A Tanzanian case study," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(5), pages 120-140.
    6. George Psacharopoulos, 1997. "Child labor versus educational attainment Some evidence from Latin America," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 10(4), pages 377-386.
    7. Falaris, Evangelos M., 2003. "The effect of survey attrition in longitudinal surveys: evidence from Peru, Cote d'Ivoire and Vietnam," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 133-157, February.
    8. Becketti, Sean, et al, 1988. "The Panel Study of Income Dynamics after Fourteen Years: An Evaluatio n," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(4), pages 472-492, October.
    9. Evangelos M. Falaris & H. Elizabeth Peters, 1998. "Survey Attrition and Schooling Choices," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(2), pages 531-554.
    10. Furio Camillo Rosati & Mariacristina Rossi, 2003. "Children's Working Hours and School Enrollment: Evidence from Pakistan and Nicaragua," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(2), pages 283-295, December.
    11. Ranjan RAY & Geoffrey LANCASTER, 2005. "The impact of children's work on schooling: Multi-country evidence," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 144(2), pages 189-210, June.
    12. Sedlacek, Guilherme & Duryea, Suzanne & Ilahi, Nadeem & Sasaki, Masaru, 2005. "Child labor, schooling, and poverty in Latin America," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 32742, The World Bank.
    13. Goulart, Pedro & Bedi, Arjun S., 2008. "Child labour and educational success in Portugal," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 575-587, October.
    14. Sabia, Joseph J., 2009. "School-year employment and academic performance of young adolescents," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 268-276, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Patrick M. Emerson & Vladimir Ponczek & André Portela Souza, 2017. "Child Labor and Learning," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65(2), pages 265-296.
    2. Rama Lionel Ngenzebuke, 2016. "Female say on income and child outcomes Evidence from Nigeria," WIDER Working Paper Series 134, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Carla Canelas, 2015. "School, market work, and household: A day of Guatemalan children," WIDER Working Paper Series 113, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    4. repec:unt:jnapdj:v:24:y:2017:i:2:p:89-112 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:ecmode:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:465-472 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Child labor; Educational economics; Human capital;

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration


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