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A Theory of Exploitative Child Labor

We develop a model of exploitative child labor with two key features: first, parents have imperfect information about whether employment opportunities available to their children are exploitative or not. Second, firms choose whether or not to exploit their child workers. In our model, a ban on exploitative child labor is desirable, because it resolves the problem of imperfect information faced by parents, and therefore leads to Pareto efficiency. We also find that a ban leads to an increase in the wages of child workers, and that firm profits, even for firms that do not exploit child workers, fall. Finally, a ban has ambiguous effects at the macroeconomic level: aggregate child employment and aggregate output can rise or fall.

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Paper provided by Georgetown University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number gueconwpa~02-02-03.

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Date of creation: 03 Feb 2002
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Handle: RePEc:geo:guwopa:gueconwpa~02-02-03
Contact details of provider: Postal: Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
Phone: 202-687-6074
Fax: 202-687-6102
Web page: http://econ.georgetown.edu/
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Order Information: Postal: Roger Lagunoff Professor of Economics Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
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  1. Albrecht, James & Axell, Bo, 1983. "An Equilibrium Model of Search Unemployment," Working Papers 83-10, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  2. Kaushik Basu, 1999. "Child Labor: Cause, Consequence, and Cure, with Remarks on International Labor Standards," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1083-1119, September.
  3. Sylvain Dessy & Stephane Pallage, 2000. "Child Labor and Coordination Failures," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 109, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  4. Carol Ann Rogers & Kenneth A. Swinnerton, 1999. "Inequality, Productivity, and Child Labor," Labor and Demography 9907003, EconWPA, revised 30 Jul 1999.
  5. Sylvain Dessy & Stéphane Pallage, 2003. "The Economics of Child Trafficking," Cahiers de recherche 0323, CIRPEE.
  6. 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.
  7. E. Paul Durrenberger, 2005. "Labour," Chapters, in: A Handbook of Economic Anthropology, chapter 8 Edward Elgar.
  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. Basu, Kaushik & Van, Pham Hoang, 1998. "The Economics of Child Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 412-27, June.
  10. Sylvain E. Dessy & Désiré Vencatachellum, 2003. "Explaining cross-country differences in policy response to child labour," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 36(1), pages 1-20, February.
  11. Arnab K. Basu & Nancy H. Chau, 2004. "Exploitation of Child Labor and the Dynamics of Debt Bondage," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 209-238, 06.
  12. Swinnerton, Kenneth A, 1996. "Minimum Wages in an Equilibrium Search Model with Diminishing Returns to Labor in Production," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(2), pages 340-55, April.
  13. Kenneth A. Swinnerton & Carol Ann Rogers, 1999. "The Economics of Child Labor: Comment," Labor and Demography 9903002, EconWPA.
  14. Kenneth A. Swinnerton, 1997. "An Essay on Economic Efficiency and Core Labour Standards," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(1), pages 73-86, 01.
  15. Genicot, Garance, 2002. "Bonded labor and serfdom: a paradox of voluntary choice," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 101-127, February.
  16. Natalia T. Tamirisa & R. B. Johnston, 1998. "Why Do Countries Use Capital Controls?," IMF Working Papers 98/181, International Monetary Fund.
  17. Arnab K. Basu & Nancy H. Chau, 2003. "Targeting Child Labor in Debt Bondage: Evidence, Theory, and Policy Implications," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(2), pages 255-281, December.
  18. 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.
  19. 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, 01.
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