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Exploitation of Child Labor and the Dynamics of Debt Bondage

Author

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  • Arnab K. Basu

    ()

  • Nancy H. Chau

    ()

Abstract

This paper is concerned with the institution of debt bondage and child labor employment in the context of an agrarian economy with overlapping generations. The model explores the principal-agent interaction between landlords and tenants, and identifies a set of reasons why households put children to work in response to the need to service outstanding debts, only to realize that child labor work is " exploited", and households are made strictly worse off in general equilibrium. Debt bondage in one generation is further shown to leave spillover effects, and contribute to the cycle of debt, bonded child labor and poverty across generations. In this context, the effectiveness of trade sanctions as a policy response to bonded child labor is evaluated. Contrary to expectations, a trade ban can set off a sequence of increasing indebtedness among agrarian households that offset the intended (static) disincentives to employ child labor.

Suggested Citation

  • Arnab K. Basu & Nancy H. Chau, 2004. "Exploitation of Child Labor and the Dynamics of Debt Bondage," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 209-238, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:9:y:2004:i:2:p:209-238
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Braverman, Avishay & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1982. "Sharecropping and the Interlinking of Agrarian Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 695-715, September.
    2. Pranab K. Bardhan, 1983. "Labor-tying in a Poor Agrarian Economy: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(3), pages 501-514.
    3. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, September.
    4. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52.
    5. Matthias Doepke, 2004. "Accounting for Fertility Decline During the Transition to Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 347-383, September.
    6. Basu, Arnab K. & Chau, Nancy H. & Grote, Ulrike, 2000. "Guaranteed Manufactured Without Child Labor," Working Papers 179542, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
    7. Arnab K. Basu, 2002. "Oligopsonistic Landlords, Segmented Labor Markets, and the Persistence of Tied-Labor Contracts," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 84(2), pages 438-453.
    8. Moshe Hazan & Binyamin Berdugo, 2002. "Child Labour, Fertility, and Economic Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 810-828, October.
    9. Mukherjee, Anindita & Ray, Debraj, 1995. "Labor tying," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 207-239, August.
    10. Basu, Kaushik, 1987. "Disneyland monopoly, interlinkage and usurious interest rates," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 1-17, October.
    11. Arnab K. Basu & Nancy H. Chau, 2003. "Targeting Child Labor in Debt Bondage: Evidence, Theory, and Policy Implications," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(2), pages 255-281, December.
    12. Otsuka, Keijiro & Chuma, Hiroyuki & Hayami, Yujiro, 1992. "Land and Labor Contracts in Agrarian Economies: Theories and Facts," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(4), pages 1965-2018, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Carol Ann Rogers & Kenneth A. Swinnerton, 2008. "A theory of exploitative child labor," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 20-41, January.
    2. repec:wsi:wschap:9789812798091_0017 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Chau, Nancy H., 2016. "On sweatshop jobs and decent work," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 120-134.
    4. Edmonds, Eric V., 2008. "Child Labor," Handbook of Development Economics, Elsevier.
    5. Strulik, Holger, 2008. "The Role of Poverty and Community Norms in Child Labor and Schooling Decisions," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Zurich 2008 42, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
    6. Holger Strulik, 2013. "School Attendance And Child Labor—A Model Of Collective Behavior," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 246-277, April.
    7. Elias Dinopoulos & Laixun Zhao, 2007. "Child Labor and Globalization," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 553-579.
    8. repec:nwe:eajour:y:2018:i:3:p:348-372 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Drusilla K. Brown & Alan V. Deardorff & Robert M. Stern, 2009. "The Effects of Multinational Production on Wages and Working Conditions in Developing Countries," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Globalization And International Trade Policies, chapter 17, pages 623-687 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    10. Arnab Basu, 2013. "Impact of rural employment guarantee schemes on seasonal labor markets: optimum compensation and workers’ welfare," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 11(1), pages 1-34, March.
    11. Chau, Nancy H., 2009. "Sweatshop Equilibrium," IZA Discussion Papers 4363, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. Maoyong Fan & Mimi Houston & Anita Alves Pena, 2014. "Determinants of child labor in the modern United States: Evidence from agricultural workers and their children and concerns for ongoing public policy," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 34(1), pages 287-306.
    13. Kouki Sugawara, 2011. "The worst forms of child labour: dynamic model and policy implication," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 31(2), pages 1910-1921.
    14. Eric Edmonds, 2007. "Institutional Influences on Human Capital Accumulation: Micro Evidence from Children Vulnerable to Bondage," Working Papers id:1109, eSocialSciences.

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