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

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Abstract

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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  • Sylvain Dessy & Stephane Pallage, 2001. "Why Banning the Worst Forms of Child Labour Would Hurt Poor Countries," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 135, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  • Handle: RePEc:cre:crefwp:135
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dessy, Sylvain E. & Pallage, Stephane, 2001. "Child labor and coordination failures," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 469-476, August.
    2. Basu, Kaushik & Van, Pham Hoang, 1998. "The Economics of Child Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 412-427, June.
    3. 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.
    4. Basu, Kaushik, 2000. "The Intriguing Relation between Adult Minimum Wage and Child Labour," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(462), pages 50-61, March.
    5. Kremer, Michael & Chen, Daniel L, 2002. "Income Distribution Dynamics with Endogenous Fertility," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 227-258, September.
    6. Canagarajah, Sudharshan & Coulombe, Harold, 1997. "Child labor and schooling in Ghana," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1844, The World Bank.
    7. Glewwe, P. & Jacoby, H., 1993. "Delayed Primary School Enrollment and Childhood Malnutrition in Ghana, an Economic Analysis," Papers 98, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. Dessy, Sylvain E., 2000. "A defense of compulsive measures against child labor," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 261-275, June.
    11. Jere Behrman & Victor Lavy, "undated". "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.
    12. Pallage, Stephane & Zimmermann, Christian, 2007. "Buying out child labor," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 75-90, March.
    13. 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.
    14. Glomm, Gerhard, 1997. "Parental choice of human capital investment," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 99-114, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Saleh Al Kafri, 2002. "Impact of Israeli Measures on Palestinian Child Labor and Schooling," Working Papers 0215, Economic Research Forum, revised 16 May 2002.
    2. Sylvain Dessy & Stephane Pallage, 2002. "Fertility, Education, and Market Failures," Journal of African Development, African Finance and Economic Association (AFEA), vol. 5(2), pages 71-85.
    3. Sylvain Dessy & Stéphane Pallage, 2003. "The Economics of Child Trafficking," Cahiers de recherche 0323, CIRPEE.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Child labour; human capital; nutrition; development;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I00 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General - - - General
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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