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A theory of exploitative child labor

  • Carol Ann Rogers
  • Kenneth A. Swinnerton

We develop a model in which some child labor is exploitative. Since exploited child laborers are paid less than the value of the marginal product of labor, there is scope for policy intervention to be Pareto improving. We illustrate this by showing that a system of inspection and fines targeted on exploitative child labor increases the aggregate output produced by children. We also establish that such intervention secures the release of children from exploitative working conditions, to their benefit. The distributional implications of the intervention among employers and among children who had not been exploited depends on whether capital is mobile internationally, and can depend on whether the elimination of exploitative child labor is partial or complete. Copyright 2008 , Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Oxford Economic Papers.

Volume (Year): 60 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 20-41

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Handle: RePEc:oup:oxecpp:v:60:y:2008:i:1:p:20-41
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  1. Sylvain Dessy & Désiré Vencatachellum, 2002. "Explaining Cross-Country Differences in Policy Response to Child Labour," Cahiers de recherche 02-03, HEC Montréal, Institut d'économie appliquée.
  2. Albrecht, James & Axell, Bo, 1983. "An Equilibrium Model of Search Unemployment," Working Papers 83-10, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  3. Kaushik Basu, 1999. "Child Labor: Cause, Consequence, and Cure, with Remarks on International Labor Standards," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1083-1119, September.
  4. Basu, Kaushik & Van, Pham Hoang, 1998. "The Economics of Child Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 412-27, June.
  5. 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.
  6. Sylvain E. Dessy & Stéphane Pallage, 2005. "A Theory of the Worst Forms of Child Labour," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 68-87, 01.
  7. Swinnerton, Kenneth A, 1996. "Minimum Wages in an Equilibrium Search Model with Diminishing Returns to Labor in Production," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(2), pages 340-55, April.
  8. 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.
  9. Dessy, Sylvain E. & Pallage, Stephane, 2001. "Child labor and coordination failures," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 469-476, August.
  10. 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, 06.
  11. Ranjan, P., 1999. ""Credit Constraints and the Phenomenon of Child Labor"," Papers 98-99-12, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
  12. Genicot, Garance, 2002. "Bonded labor and serfdom: a paradox of voluntary choice," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 101-127, February.
  13. Sylvain Dessy & Stéphane Pallage, 2003. "The Economics of Child Trafficking," Cahiers de recherche 0323, CIRPEE.
  14. Eric V. Edmonds & Nina Pavcnik, 2005. "Child Labor in the Global Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 199-220, Winter.
  15. E. Paul Durrenberger, 2005. "Labour," Chapters, in: A Handbook of Economic Anthropology, chapter 8 Edward Elgar.
  16. Kenneth A. Swinnerton, 1997. "An Essay on Economic Efficiency and Core Labour Standards," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(1), pages 73-86, 01.
  17. Carol Ann Rogers & Kenneth A. Swinnerton, 1999. "The Economics of Child Labor: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1382-1385, December.
  18. Carol Ann Rogers & Kenneth A. Swinnerton, 1999. "Inequality, Productivity, and Child Labor," Labor and Demography 9907003, EconWPA, revised 30 Jul 1999.
  19. Natalia T. Tamirisa & R. B. Johnston, 1998. "Why Do Countries Use Capital Controls?," IMF Working Papers 98/181, International Monetary Fund.
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