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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

    as
    1. Edmonds, Eric V., 2008. "Child Labor," Handbook of Development Economics, Elsevier.
    2. Carol Ann Rogers & Kenneth A. Swinnerton, 2004. "Does Child Labor Decrease When Parental Incomes Rise?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 939-968, August.
    3. Basu, Kaushik & Van, Pham Hoang, 1998. "The Economics of Child Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 412-427, June.
    4. Eric V. Edmonds & Nina Pavcnik, 2005. "Child Labor in the Global Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 199-220, Winter.
    5. 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.
    6. Basu, Kaushik, 2005. "Child labor and the law: Notes on possible pathologies," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 169-174, May.
    7. Matthias Doepke & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2005. "The Macroeconomics of Child Labor Regulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1492-1524, December.
    8. Ranjan, Priya, 2001. "Credit constraints and the phenomenon of child labor," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 81-102, February.
    9. Jafarey, Saqib & Lahiri, Sajal, 2002. "Will trade sanctions reduce child labour?: The role of credit markets," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 137-156, June.
    10. Sharma, Alakh N. & Sharma, Rajeev. & Raj, Nikhil., 2000. "The impact of social labelling on child labour in India's carpet industry," ILO Working Papers 993659723402676, International Labour Organization.
    11. 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.
    12. Carol Ann Rogers & Kenneth A. Swinnerton, 1999. "The Economics of Child Labor: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1382-1385, December.
    13. 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.
    14. Sylvain E. Dessy & Stéphane Pallage, 2005. "A Theory of the Worst Forms of Child Labour," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 68-87, January.
    15. E. Paul Durrenberger, 2005. "Labour," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Economic Anthropology, chapter 8 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    16. repec:ilo:ilowps:365972 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Uma Kambhampati, 2004. "Does Child Work Decrease with Parental Income?: The Luxury Axiom Revisited in India," Economics & Management Discussion Papers em-dp2004-02, Henley Business School, Reading University.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Cited by:

    1. Edmonds, Eric V., 2008. "Child Labor," Handbook of Development Economics, Elsevier.
    2. 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.

    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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