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Is Product Boycott a Good Idea for Controlling Child Labor?

Author

Listed:
  • Basu, Kaushik

    (Cornell U)

  • Zarghamee, Homa

    (Cornell U)

Abstract

A popular form of action to curb child labor and uphold international labor standards in general is a product boycott by consumers. There are labeling agencies that inform us if, for instance, a carpet or a hand-stitched soccer ball is free of child labor. The presence of a consumer boycott will typically mean that products tainted by child labor will command a lower price on the market than ones certified to be untainted. It is popularly presumed that such consumer activism is desirable. The paper formally investigates this presumption and shows that consumer product boycotts can, in a wide class of situations, have a backlash that causes child labor to rise rather than fall. This happens under weak and plausible assumptions. Hence, there has to be much greater caution in the use of consumer activism and one has to have much more detailed information about the context, where child labor occurs, before using a boycott.

Suggested Citation

  • Basu, Kaushik & Zarghamee, Homa, 2005. "Is Product Boycott a Good Idea for Controlling Child Labor?," Working Papers 05-14, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:corcae:05-14
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    File URL: https://cae.economics.cornell.edu/05-14.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Edmonds, Eric V., 2008. "Child Labor," Handbook of Development Economics, in: T. Paul Schultz & John A. Strauss (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 57, pages 3607-3709, Elsevier.
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    11. E. Paul Durrenberger, 2005. "Labour," Chapters, in: James G. Carrier (ed.), A Handbook of Economic Anthropology, chapter 8, Edward Elgar Publishing.
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    16. repec:ilo:ilowps:365972 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Edmonds, Eric V., 2008. "Child Labor," Handbook of Development Economics, in: T. Paul Schultz & John A. Strauss (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 57, pages 3607-3709, Elsevier.
    2. Heather Congdon Fors, 2012. "Child Labour: A Review Of Recent Theory And Evidence With Policy Implications," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(4), pages 570-593, September.
    3. Ryo Horii & Masaru Sasaki, 2012. "Dual Poverty Trap: Intra‐ and Intergenerational Linkages in Frictional Labor Markets," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 14(1), pages 131-160, February.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • K00 - Law and Economics - - General - - - General (including Data Sources and Description)
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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