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Why is child labor illegal?

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  • Dessy, Sylvain
  • Knowles, John

Abstract

We present a theory of the emergence of laws restricting child labor or imposing mandatory education that is consistent with the fact that poor parents tend to oppose such laws. We find that if altruistic parents are unable to commit to educating their children, child-labor laws can increase the welfare of higher-income parents in an ex ante sense. On the basis of an empirical analysis of Latin-American household surveys, we demonstrate that per capita income in the country of residence has the predicted effect on child labor supply, even after controlling for other household characteristics.

Suggested Citation

  • Dessy, Sylvain & Knowles, John, 2008. "Why is child labor illegal?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(7), pages 1275-1311, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:52:y:2008:i:7:p:1275-1311
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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. Simone D’Alessandro & Tamara Fioroni, 2016. "Child labour and inequality," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 14(1), pages 63-79, March.
    3. Matthias Doepke, "undated". "Origins and Consequences of Child Labor Restrictions: A Macroeconomic Perspective," UCLA Economics Online Papers 413, UCLA Department of Economics.
    4. Piza, Caio & Souza, André Portela Fernandes de, 2016. "Short and long-term effects of a child-labor ban," Textos para discussão 428, FGV EESP - Escola de Economia de São Paulo, Fundação Getulio Vargas (Brazil).
    5. Michele Di Maio & Giorgio Fabbri, 2013. "Consumer boycott, household heterogeneity, and child labor," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(4), pages 1609-1630, October.
    6. Francisco Gonzalez & Irving Rosales, 2016. "The case against child labor bans," Working Papers 1601, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2016.
    7. Chaudhuri, Sanjukta, 2009. "The School Going Child Worker: An Analysis of Poverty, Asset Inequality and Child Education in Rural India," MPRA Paper 19687, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Mazzutti, Caio Cícero Toledo Piza da Costa, 2016. "Three essays on the causal impacts of child labour laws in Brazil," Economics PhD Theses 0616, Department of Economics, University of Sussex Business School.
    9. Sylvain Dessy & Tiana Rambeloma, 2009. "Immigration Policy, Remittances, and Growth in the Migrant-Sending Country," Cahiers de recherche 0915, CIRPEE.
    10. Dimova, Ralitza, 2021. "The Political Economy of Child Labor," GLO Discussion Paper Series 816, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    11. Irving Rosales, 2013. "Learn, sweat or steal: a theory of development and the activity of children," Working Papers 0613, Universidad Iberoamericana, Department of Economics.
    12. 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.
    13. Dirk Krueger & Jessica Tjornhom Donohue, 2005. "On The Distributional Consequences Of Child Labor Legislation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 46(3), pages 785-815, August.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Child labor Compulsory education Economic development;

    JEL classification:

    • J82 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Labor Force Composition
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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