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Health effects of child work: Evidence from rural Vietnam

  • Owen O'Donnell


  • Furio C. Rosati


  • Eddy van Doorslaer


We test whether work in childhood impacts on health. We focus on agricultural work, the dominant form of child work worldwide. Data are from the Vietnam Living Standards Survey, 1992-93 and 1997-98. We correct for both unobservable heterogeneity and simultaneity biases. Instruments include small area labour market and education conditions obtained from community level surveys. We use three indicators of health: body mass index; reported illness; and, height growth. There is clear evidence of a healthy worker selection effect. We find little evidence of a contemporaneous impact of child work on health but work undertaken during childhood raises the risk of illness up to five years later and the risk is increasing with the duration of work. There is no evidence that work impedes the growth of the child.

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Population Economics.

Volume (Year): 18 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (09)
Pages: 437-467

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Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:18:y:2005:i:3:p:437-467
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  1. Edmonds, Eric & Turk, Carrie, 2002. "Child labor in transition in Vietnam," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2774, The World Bank.
  2. O.O'Donnel & F.Rosati & E.van Doorslaer, 2002. "Child Labour and Health: Evidence and Research Issues," UCW Working Paper 1, Understanding Children's Work (UCW Programme).
  3. Eric Edmonds, 2007. "Child Labor," Working Papers id:988, eSocialSciences.
  4. Eric Edmonds & Nina Pavcnik, 2002. "Does Globalization Increase Child Labor? Evidence from Vietnam," NBER Working Papers 8760, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Lahiri, Kajal & Schmidt, Peter, 1978. "On the Estimation of Triangular Structural Systems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(5), pages 1217-21, September.
  7. George Psacharopoulos, 1997. "Child labor versus educational attainment Some evidence from Latin America," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 377-386.
  8. Fentiman, Alicia & Hall, Andrew & Bundy, Don, 2001. "Health and cultural factors associated with enrolment in basic education: a study in rural Ghana," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 429-439, February.
  9. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-55, March-Apr.
  10. Hideo Akabayashi & George Psacharopoulos, 1999. "The trade-off between child labour and human capital formation: A Tanzanian case study," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(5), pages 120-140.
  11. Alessandro Cigno, 1998. "Fertility decisions when infant survival is endogenous," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 21-28.
  12. Immink, Maarten D. C. & Payongayong, Ellen, 1999. "Risk analysis of poor health and growth failure of children in the central highlands of Guatemala," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 48(8), pages 997-1009, April.
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