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A revisionist view of the economic implications of child labor regulations


  • Morris Altman


The conventional neoclassical wisdom predicts that banning, restricting, or improving the working conditions of child labor will increase the costs of production, thereby diminishing the competitiveness of those jurisdictions that legislate against child labor. However, from a behavioral theoretical perspective this need not be the case when a productivity differential favoring adult labor exists which at least compensates for the pay differential between child and adult labor, and where the increased cost of child labor is compensated for by their increased productivity. In this case, legislating against child labor will not have the negative economic consequences predicted by the conventional wisdom. The cost of such restrictions, however, will then fall largely on the family income of affected families unless compensated for by sufficient increases in real adult wages, increases in the adult labor force participation rate, or other sources of income.
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Suggested Citation

  • Morris Altman, 2001. "A revisionist view of the economic implications of child labor regulations," Forum for Social Economics, Springer;The Association for Social Economics, vol. 30(2), pages 1-23, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:fosoec:v:30:y:2001:i:2:p:1-23
    DOI: 10.1007/BF02828500

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Bliss, Christopher & Stern, Nicholas, 1978. "Productivity, wages and nutrition : Part I: the theory," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 331-362, December.
    3. Kochan, Thomas A., 1996. "What works at work : overview and assessment," Working papers 3886-96., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rajen Mookerjee & Annalisa Orlandi, 2004. "Multinational Corporations and Child Labor," Global Economic Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(4), pages 1-13.

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