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The Global Child Labor Problem: What Do We Know and What Can We Do?


  • Basu, Kaushik

    (Cornell U)

  • Tzannatos, Zafiris


The problem of child labor has gone beyond being viewed as a matter of regional and intra-national concern to one of international debate and possible global 'persuasion' and policy intervention. It is argued in this paper that, in crafting policy for mitigating this enormous problem of our times, it is important to acquire a proper theoretical and empirical understanding of the phenomenon. What gives rise to child labor and what are its consequences? What are the interventions that we can think of in order to end child labor without hurting children? A well-meaning but poorly designed policy can exacerbate the poverty that these laboring children face and even bring them to starvation. The present paper surveys the large and rapidly growing literature on this subject, focusing mainly on the new literature that uses the best of modern economic theory and econometrics. We then go on to discuss some of the broad policy implications of these new findings and hope that this will contribute to better-informed discussion and policy design in this area.

Suggested Citation

  • Basu, Kaushik & Tzannatos, Zafiris, 2003. "The Global Child Labor Problem: What Do We Know and What Can We Do?," Working Papers 03-06, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:corcae:03-06

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    JEL classification:

    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General


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