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Lifetime Health Consequences of Child Labor in Brazil


  • Lee, Chanyoung
  • Orazem, Peter


The health consequences of child labor may take time to manifest themselves. This study examines whether children who began working at a young age experience increased incidence of illness or physical disability as adults.. When child labor and schooling are treated as chosen without consideration of unobserved abilities or health endowments, child labor appears to have small adverse effects on a wide variety of health measures. Some adverse health consequences such as heart disease or hypertension seem unlikely to be caused by child labor. However, when we allow unobserved health and ability endowments to alter the age of labor market entry and years of schooling completed, the joint effects of child labor and schooling on health become larger while the less plausible health consequences lose significance. Results imply that delaying entry into child labor while increasing time in school significantly lowers the probability of early onset of physical ailments such as back problems, arthritis, or reduced strength or stamina. However, our methods are not able to distinguish between the health impacts of child labor from the impacts of reduced time in school.

Suggested Citation

  • Lee, Chanyoung & Orazem, Peter, 2008. "Lifetime Health Consequences of Child Labor in Brazil," Staff General Research Papers Archive 12933, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:12933

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
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    17. Bedi, Arjun Singh & Edwards, John H. Y., 2002. "The impact of school quality on earnings and educational returns--evidence from a low-income country," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 157-185, June.
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    More about this item


    child labor; health; Wages; schooling; school quality; occupational choice;

    JEL classification:

    • I00 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General - - - General

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