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Economic growth: A panacea for child labor?

  • Kambhampati, Uma S.
  • Rajan, Raji

In this paper, we test whether economic growth will lead to a decline in child labour. Our analysis brings together household data from the National Sample Survey of India and state level macro data from various sources to estimate a bivariate probit model analysing the impact of growth and development on the probability of child employment across 15 states in India. Our results lead us to conclude that contrary to popular wisdom, growth actually increases rather than decreases child labour. Pro-poor growth however does help to reduce child labour significantly amongst both boys and girls. we also find that macroeconomic prosperity has a greater impact on girls that on boys and we conclude that this is because in India's socio-cultural environment, girls are sent outside the home to work only in extreme circumstances. In this context, any improvement is likely to impact first upon girls and only then on boys.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal World Development.

Volume (Year): 34 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 (March)
Pages: 426-445

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Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:34:y:2006:i:3:p:426-445
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  1. Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1996. "Why have some Indian states done better than others at reducing rural poverty?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1594, The World Bank.
  2. Sonia Bhalotra & Christopher Heady, 2003. "Child Farm Labor: The Wealth Paradox," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(2), pages 197-227, December.
  3. Cigno, Alessandro & Rosati, Furio C. & Guarcello, Lorenzo, 2002. "Does Globalisation Increase Child Labour?," IZA Discussion Papers 470, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Ray, Ranjan, 2000. "Child Labor, Child Schooling, and Their Interaction with Adult Labor: Empirical Evidence for Peru and Pakistan," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 14(2), pages 347-67, May.
  5. Uma Kambhampati & Raji Rajan, 2008. "The 'Nowhere' Children: Patriarchy and the Role of Girls in India's Rural Economy," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(9), pages 1309-1341.
  6. Horrell Sara & Humphries Jane, 1995. "The Exploitation of Little Children: Child Labor and the Family Economy in the Industrial Revolution," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 485-516, October.
  7. Basu, Kaushik, 1998. "Child labor : cause, consequence, and cure, with remarks on International Labor Standards," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2027, The World Bank.
  8. Uma Kambhampati, 2004. "Does Child Work Decrease with Parental Income?: The Luxury Axiom Revisited in India," Economics & Management Discussion Papers em-dp2004-02, Henley Business School, Reading University.
  9. Swaminathan, Madhura, 1998. "Economic growth and the persistence of child labor: Evidence from an Indian city," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(8), pages 1513-1528, August.
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