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Child labor and learning

  • Emerson, Patrick M.
  • Ponczek, Vladimir P.
  • Souza, André Portela

This paper investigates the impact of working while in school on learning outcomes through the use of a unique micro panel dataset of Brazilian students. The potential endogeneity is addressed through the use of di erence-in-di erence and instrumental variable estimators. A negative e ect of working on learning outcomes in both math and Portuguese is found. The e ects of child work range from 3% to 8% of a standard deviation decline in test score which represents a loss of about a quarter to a half of a year of learning on average. We also explore the minimum legal age to entry in the labor market to induce an exogenous variation in child labor status. The results reinforce the detrimental e ects of child labor on learning. Additionally, it is found that this e ect is likely due to the interference of work with the time kids can devote to school and school work.

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Paper provided by Escola de Economia de São Paulo, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil) in its series Textos para discussão with number 335.

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Date of creation: 05 Dec 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fgv:eesptd:335
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  1. Emerson, Patrick M & Souza, Andre Portela, 2003. "Is There a Child Labor Trap? Intergenerational Persistence of Child Labor in Brazil," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(2), pages 375-98, January.
  2. 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.
  3. Vladimir Ponczek & Andre Portela Souza, 2012. "New Evidence of the Causal Effect of Family Size on Child Quality in a Developing Country," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(1), pages 64-106.
  4. Beegle, Kathleen & Dehejia, Rajeev & Gatti, Roberta, 2005. "Why should we care about child labor? The education, labor market, and health consequences of child labor," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3479, The World Bank.
  5. Duryea, Suzanne & Lam, David & Levison, Deborah, 2007. "Effects of economic shocks on children's employment and schooling in Brazil," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 188-214, September.
  6. Gunnarsson, Victoria & Orazem, Peter & Sanchez, Mario A., 2003. "Child Labor and School Achievement in Latin America," Staff General Research Papers 10684, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  7. Dessy, Sylvain E., 2000. "A defense of compulsive measures against child labor," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 261-275, June.
  8. Jerik Hanushek & Dennis Kimko, 2006. "Schooling, Labor-force Quality, and the Growth of Nations," Educational Studies, Higher School of Economics, issue 1, pages 154-193.
  9. Christelle Dumas, 2012. "Does Work Impede Child Learning? The Case of Senegal," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(4), pages 773 - 793.
  10. Canals-Cerda, Jose & Ridao-Cano, Cristobal, 2004. "The dynamics of school and work in rural Bangladesh," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3330, The World Bank.
  11. Mette Ejrnæs & Claus Chr. Pörtner, 2002. "Birth Order and the Intrahousehold Allocation of Time and Education," CAM Working Papers 2002-09, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
  12. Horowitz, Andrew W. & Wang, Jian, 2004. "Favorite son? Specialized child laborers and students in poor LDC households," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 631-642, April.
  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.
  14. Bezerra, Márcio Eduardo G. & Kassouf, Ana Lucia & Arends-Kuenning, Mary P., 2009. "The Impact of Child Labor and School Quality on Academic Achievement in Brazil," IZA Discussion Papers 4062, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Ravallion, Martin & Wodon, Quentin, 1999. "Does child labor displace schooling? - evidence on behavioral responses to an enrollment subsidy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2116, The World Bank.
  16. Heady, Christopher, 2003. "The Effect of Child Labor on Learning Achievement," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 385-398, February.
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