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Social Conformity and Child Labor

Author

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  • Shirit Katav-Herz

    (Department of Economics, Bar Ilan University)

Abstract

This paper investigates the phenomenon of child labor. I consider a society that in principle values education. Parents derive utility from social conformity, and “good” and “bad” equilibria can arise where the majority of children respectively do and do not go to school. In a “bad” equilibrium, social conformity sustains child labor, and I consider policies to change the equilibrium. Taxes on income from child labor may not be a feasible enforcement task for the tax administration. Incentive payments financed by domestic taxation can be provided to parents who send children to school, and can, but need not, discourage child labor. Also, again the domestic tax base may not be available. The effective and assured means of changing social norms to end child labor is externally financed incentive payments. Such payments can require extensive foreign assistance. However, when social norms underlie the phenomenon of child labor, the external assistance need only be temporary since the change in social norms is a case of hysteresis. After a period of time the incentive payments to parents can be removed, and an equilibrium where children go to school rather than work is sustained.

Suggested Citation

  • Shirit Katav-Herz, 2001. "Social Conformity and Child Labor," Working Papers 2001-14, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:biu:wpaper:2001-14
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg & Jörgen W. Weibull, 1999. "Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-35.
    2. Ranjan Ray, 2000. "Analysis of child labour in Peru and Pakistan: A comparative study," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 13(1), pages 3-19.
    3. Galor, Oded & Weil, David N, 1996. "The Gender Gap, Fertility, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 374-387, June.
    4. Basu, Kaushik & Van, Pham Hoang, 1998. "The Economics of Child Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 412-427, June.
    5. Moshe Hazan & Binyamin Berdugo, 2002. "Child Labour, Fertility, and Economic Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 810-828, October.
    6. Lindbeck, A & Nyberg, S & Weibull, J-W, 1996. "Social Norms, the Welfare State, and Voting," Papers 608, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
    7. Ranjan, Priya, 1999. "An economic analysis of child labor," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 99-105, July.
    8. Margo, Robert A & Finegan, T Aldrich, 1993. "The Decline in Black Teenage Labor-Force Participation in the South, 1900-1970: The Role of Schooling," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 234-247, March.
    9. Moehling, Carolyn M., 1999. "State Child Labor Laws and the Decline of Child Labor," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 72-106, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Child labor; social conformity; social norms; education and economic development;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • K31 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Labor Law
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General

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