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Revisiting the Link Between Poverty and Child Labor: The Ghanaian Experience

  • Blunch, Niels-Hugo

    (Centre for Labour Market and Social Research, Aarhus School of Business)

  • Verner, Dorthe

    (Centre for Labour Market and Social Research, Aarhus School of Business)

The link between poverty and child labor has traditionally been regarded a well established fact. Recent research, however, has questioned the validity of this link, claiming that poverty is not a main determinant of child labor. Starting from a premise that child labor is necessarily harmful, we analyze the determinants of harmful child labor, viewed as child labor that directly conflicts with the human capital accumulation of the child in an attempt to identify the most vulnerable groups, thus possibly enabling appropriate actions to be taken by policy makers. We reinstate the positive relationship between poverty and child labor, a conjecture that has been questioned by recent litterature. Further, we find evidence of a gender gap in child labor linked to poverty, since girls as a group as well as across urban, rural and poverty sub-samples consistently are found to be more likely to engage in harmful child labor than boys. The established gender gap need not necessarily imply discrimination but rather reflect cultural norms. A further exploration of this issue seems to be a potentially fruitful avenue for further research. The last main finding is that there exist structural differences in the processes underlying harmful child labor in Ghana across gender, across rural/urban location as well as across poverty quintiles of households

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Paper provided by University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Centre for Labour Market and Social Research in its series CLS Working Papers with number 01-3.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: 01 Apr 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:aarcls:2001_003
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  1. Easterly, W & Levine, R, 1996. "Africa's Growth Tragedy : Policies and Ethnic Divisions," Papers 536, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
  2. Lavy, Victor, 1996. "School supply constraints and children's educational outcomes in rural Ghana," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 291-314, December.
  3. Nielsen, H.S., 1998. "Child Labor and School Attendance: Two Joint Decisions," Papers 98-15, Centre for Labour Market and Social Research, Danmark-.
  4. Canagarajah, Sudharshan & Coulombe, Harold, 1997. "Child labor and schooling in Ghana," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1844, The World Bank.
  5. Basu, Kaushik & Van, Pham Hoang, 1998. "The Economics of Child Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 412-27, June.
  6. Grootaert, Christiaan & Kanbur, Ravi, 1995. "Child labor : a review," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1454, The World Bank.
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