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Inequality, Productivity, and Child Labor: Theory and Evidence

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Abstract

A recent theoretical literature has linked reductions in income inequality to reductions in child labor in countries that are relatively well-off, but has not explored how income distribution affects child labor in very poor countries. We show that while in higher-productivity countries with child labor, a more equal income distribution will reduce or eliminate child labor, in low productivity countries, a more equal distribution of income will exacerbate child labor. Econometric specifications studying child labor among 10- to-14 year olds yield results generally consistent with these predictions. Policy actions that aim to bring about more equality so as to reduce child labor will likely not have the desired effect unless a country in which they are taken is sufficiently wealthy.

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  • Carol Rogers & Kenneth A. Swinnerton, 2001. "Inequality, Productivity, and Child Labor: Theory and Evidence," Working Papers gueconwpa~01-01-10, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:geo:guwopa:gueconwpa~01-01-10
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    Cited by:

    1. Eric V. Edmonds, 2005. "Does Child Labor Decline with Improving Economic Status?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(1).
    2. Busse, Matthias & Braun, Sebastian, 2004. "Export Structure, FDI and Child Labour," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 19, pages 804-829.
    3. Jayanta Sarkar & Dipanwita Sarkar, 2016. "Why Does Child Labor Persist With Declining Poverty?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(1), pages 139-158, January.
    4. 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.
    5. Drusilla K. Brown & Alan V. Deardorff & Robert M. Stern, 2001. "Child Labor: Theory, Evidence and Policy," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0111, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    6. 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.
    7. Jellal, Mohamed & Tarbalouti, Essaid, 2012. "Institutions ├ęducation et travail des enfants
      [Institutions education and child labor]
      ," MPRA Paper 39384, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Aïssata COULIBALY, 2016. "Revisiting the Relationship between Financial Development and Child Labor in Developing Countries: Do Inequality and Institutions Matter?," Working Papers 201619, CERDI.
    9. Congdon Fors, Heather, 2007. "The Determinants of Rural Child Labor: An Application to India," Working Papers in Economics 256, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.

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