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Why Children Work, Attend School, or Stay Idle: The Roles of Ability and Household Wealth

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  • Marigee P. Bacolod
  • Priya Ranjan

Abstract

This paper offers a theoretical and empirical analysis of child labor, schooling, and idleness (neither work nor school), with particular emphasis on the roles of child ability and household wealth in determining these decisions. We show theoretically that “idleness†may be chosen optimally by low-income households whose child is of low ability. Using a rich data set from the Philippines, we find that while other factors—including mother’s labor supply, the presence of a family business, and access to good school quality—contribute to these decisions, child ability and household wealth are the most important determinants of child idleness and the use of child labor. An implication of our findings is that any policy aiming to reduce child labor and increase child schooling should also target improvements in child ability and cognitive development through investments in the nutrition and health of poor children.

Suggested Citation

  • Marigee P. Bacolod & Priya Ranjan, 2008. "Why Children Work, Attend School, or Stay Idle: The Roles of Ability and Household Wealth," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 791-828.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:v:56:y:2008:p:791-828
    DOI: 10.1086/588165
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Edmonds, Eric V., 2006. "Child labor and schooling responses to anticipated income in South Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 386-414, December.
    2. M.Biggeri & L.Guarcello & S.Lyon & F.Rosati, 2003. "The Puzzle of 'Idle' Children: Neither in School nor performing Economic Activity: Evidence from six Countries," UCW Working Paper 5, Understanding Children's Work (UCW Programme).
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    Cited by:

    1. Ellen Webbink & Jeroen Smits & Eelke Jong, 2013. "Household and Context Determinants of Child Labor in 221 Districts of 18 Developing Countries," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 110(2), pages 819-836, January.
    2. Prashant Bharadwaj & Leah K. Lakdawala & Nicholas Li, 2013. "Perverse Consequences of Well Intentioned Regulation: Evidence from India's Child Labor Ban," NBER Working Papers 19602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Ralitza Dimova & Gil S. Epstein & Ira N. Gang, 2015. "Migration, Transfers and Child Labor," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(3), pages 735-747, August.
    4. He, Huajing, 2016. "Child labour and academic achievement: Evidence from Gansu Province in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 130-150.
    5. Krisztina Kis-Katos, 2012. "Gender differences in work-schooling decisions in rural North India," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 491-519, December.
    6. repec:pal:eurjdr:v:29:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1057_s41287-016-0001-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Connie Bayudan-Dacuycuy & Lawrence Dacuycuy, 2013. "Is schooling forever doomed with child labor around? An analysis using Philippine time use data," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(1), pages 138-151.
    8. Chaudhuri, Sanjukta, 2009. "The School Going Child Worker: An Analysis of Poverty, Asset Inequality and Child Education in Rural India," MPRA Paper 19687, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Abou, Pokou Edouard, 2015. "Incidence du travail domestique, des caractéristiques de l’école et du ménage sur les résultats scolaires des filles en Côte d’Ivoire
      [Incidence of domestic work, school and household characteristi
      ," MPRA Paper 43976, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Abdulmumini Baba Alfa & Abdulmumini Baba Alfa & Mohammed Zaini Abd Karim, 2016. "Effect of Child Labor and Performance on Child Relationship with Head in Rural Areas of Niger State, Nigeria," International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, Econjournals, vol. 6(3), pages 892-900.
    11. Clifford Afoakwah & Fatima Dauda, 2016. "Employment status and educational attainment among disabled Ghanaians," WIDER Working Paper Series 056, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    12. repec:eee:injoed:v:61:y:2018:i:c:p:92-105 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. repec:eee:jcecon:v:46:y:2018:i:2:p:480-494 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Epstein, Gil S. & Kahana, Nava, 2008. "Child labor and temporary emigration," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 99(3), pages 545-548, June.
    15. Dendir, Seife, 2014. "Children's cognitive ability, schooling and work: Evidence from Ethiopia," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 22-36.

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