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Child labor, agricultural shocks and labor sharing in rural Ethiopia

The author studies the effect of an agricultural shock and a labor sharing arrangement (informal social network) on child labor. Albeit bad parental preference to child labor (as the strand of literature claims), poor households face compelling situations to send their child to work. This is, especially, true when they are hit by an income shock and face a binding adult labor constraint. The author used panel data from the ERHS and employed a fixed effects model to pin down causal relation between shocks, membership in a labor sharing arrangement and child labor. It was found that child labor is, indeed, a buffer stock. Though a labor sharing arrangement doesn't affect child labor at normal times, it helps households to lessen the pressure to rely on it when hit by idiosyncratic shocks. While almost the whole effect of these shocks is offset by participation in a labor sharing arrangement, the covariate shock is not. Even if this may well affect a child's academic performance, school attendance doesn't decrease. This differential effect of shocks on child labor in participant households might be because of the extra adult labor made available or due to mutual support that comes with these social networks. This paper is indicative of the importance of considering social networks in smoothing out consumption. Further, it highlights the difficulty to cope up with covariate shocks and hence, calls for development interventions that are particularly meant to address their impact.

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Paper provided by International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague in its series ISS Working Papers - General Series with number 18702.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ems:euriss:18702
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  1. Hanan G. Jacoby & Emmanuel Skoufias, 1997. "Risk, Financial Markets, and Human Capital in a Developing Country," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(3), pages 311-335.
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  12. Anjini Kochar, 1999. "Smoothing Consumption by Smoothing Income: Hours-of-Work Responses to Idiosyncratic Agricultural Shocks in Rural India," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 50-61, February.
  13. Beegle, Kathleen & Dehejia, Rajeev H. & Gatti, Roberta, 2006. "Child labor and agricultural shocks," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 80-96, October.
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  15. Robert M. Townsend, 1995. "Consumption Insurance: An Evaluation of Risk-Bearing Systems in Low-Income Economies," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 83-102, Summer.
  16. Ranjan, Priya, 1999. "An economic analysis of child labor," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 99-105, July.
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