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Why is child labor illegal?

  • Dessy, Sylvain
  • Knowles, John

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.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 52 (2008)
Issue (Month): 7 (October)
Pages: 1275-1311

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:52:y:2008:i:7:p:1275-1311
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  8. Karine S. Moe, 1998. "Fertility, Time Use, and Economic Development," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(3), pages 699-718, July.
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  12. Dahan, Momi & Gaviria, Alejandro, 2001. "Sibling Correlations and Intergenerational Mobility in Latin America," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(3), pages 537-54, April.
  13. Glomm, Gerhard, 1997. "Parental choice of human capital investment," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 99-114, June.
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  17. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Evenson, Robert E, 1977. "Fertility, Schooling, and the Economic Contribution of Children in Rural India: An Econometric Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(5), pages 1065-79, July.
  18. George Psacharopoulos, 1997. "Child labor versus educational attainment Some evidence from Latin America," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 377-386.
  19. Behrman, Jere R & Sengupta, Piyali & Todd, Petra, 2005. "Progressing through PROGRESA: An Impact Assessment of a School Subsidy Experiment in Rural Mexico," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(1), pages 237-75, October.
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