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Why Banning the Worst Forms of Child Labour Would Hurt Poor Countries

Although it is intuitive and morally compelling that the worst forms of child labour should be eliminated, banning them in poor countries is unlikely to be welfare improving and can come at the expense of human capital accumulation. We show that the existence of harmful forms of child labour, in fact, has an economic role: it helps keep wages for child labour high enough to allow human capital accumulation. Therefore, unless appropriate mechanisms are designed to mitigate the decline in child labour wages caused by reduced employment options for children, a ban on harmful forms of child labour will likely prove undesirable in poor countries. We perform our analysis within a simple two-period model of parental investment in children's education and nutritional quality.

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Paper provided by CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal in its series Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers with number 135.

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Length: 15 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cre:crefwp:135
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  1. Michael Kremer & Daniel Chen, 2000. "Income-distribution Dynamics with Endogenous Fertility," NBER Working Papers 7530, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Behrman, Jere R, 1996. "The Impact of Health and Nutrition on Education," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 11(1), pages 23-37, February.
  3. Glomm, Gerhard, 1997. "Parental choice of human capital investment," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 99-114, June.
  4. Basu, Kaushik, 1998. "Child labor : cause, consequence, and cure, with remarks on International Labor Standards," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2027, The World Bank.
  5. Glewwe, P. & Jacoby, H., 1993. "Delayed Primary School Enrollment and Childhood Malnutrition in Ghana, an Economic Analysis," Papers 98, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
  6. Pallage, Stephane & Zimmermann, Christian, 2007. "Buying out child labor," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 75-90, March.
  7. Canagarajah, Sudharshan & Coulombe, Harold, 1997. "Child labor and schooling in Ghana," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1844, The World Bank.
  8. Dessy, Sylvain E., 2000. "A defense of compulsive measures against child labor," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 261-275, June.
  9. Basu, Kaushik, 1999. "The intriguing relation between adult minimum wage and child labor," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2173, The World Bank.
  10. Harold Alderman & Jere R. Behrman & Victor Lavy & Rekha Menon, 2001. "Child Health and School Enrollment: A Longitudinal Analysis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(1), pages 185-205.
  11. Dessy, Sylvain E. & Pallage, Stephane, 2001. "Child labor and coordination failures," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 469-476, August.
  12. Basu, Kaushik & Van, Pham Hoang, 1998. "The Economics of Child Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 412-27, June.
  13. Jere Behrman & Victor Lavy, . "Child Health and Schooling Achievement: Association, Causality and Household Allocations," CARESS Working Papres 97-23, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  14. Daniel Chen & Michael Kremer, 1999. "Income-Distribution Dynamics with Endogenous Fertility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 155-160, May.
  15. 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.
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