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Child Work and Schooling Costs in Rural Northern India


  • Hazarika, Gautam

    () (The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley)

  • Bedi, Arjun S.

    () (ISS, Erasmus University Rotterdam)


It is widely held that work by children obstructs schooling, so that working children in impoverished families will find it difficult to escape poverty. If children’s school attendance and work were highly substitutable activities, it would be advisable to quell work in the interest of schooling and, if less child work were desirable for its own sake, to boost school attendance so as to reduce child work. Hence, this article examines the effects of schooling costs upon both children’s propensities to work and to attend school in rural northern India in a bid to assess the extent of trade-off between the activities. Analyses of data from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, two Northern Indian states, reveal a positive relation between child work and schooling costs, a negative relation between school enrollment and schooling costs, and that the decrease in the probability of child work from a decrease in schooling costs is comparable in magnitude to the corresponding increase in the probability of school enrollment, implying children’s work and school attendance are strongly substitutable activities. Thus, unlike recent studies of child work in India’s South Asian neighbors of Bangladesh and Pakistan, this paper uncovers evidence of substantial trade-off between child work and school attendance.

Suggested Citation

  • Hazarika, Gautam & Bedi, Arjun S., 2006. "Child Work and Schooling Costs in Rural Northern India," IZA Discussion Papers 2136, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2136

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gautam Hazarika & Arjun Bedi, 2003. "Schooling Costs and Child Work in Rural Pakistan," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(5), pages 29-64.
    2. Binder, Melissa & Scrogin, David, 1999. "Labor Force Participation and Household Work of Urban Schoolchildren in Mexico: Characteristics and Consequences," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 123-154, October.
    3. Canagarajah, Sudharshan & Nielsen, Helena Skyt, 1999. "Child labor and schooling in Africa : a comparative study," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 20456, The World Bank.
    4. Basu, Kaushik & Van, Pham Hoang, 1998. "The Economics of Child Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 412-427, June.
    5. Swaminathan, Madhura, 1998. "Economic growth and the persistence of child labor: Evidence from an Indian city," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(8), pages 1513-1528, August.
    6. Ravallion, Martin & Wodon, Quentin, 2000. "Does Child Labour Displace Schooling? Evidence on Behavioural Responses to an Enrollment Subsidy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(462), pages 158-175, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tin-chi Lin & Alícia Adserà, 2013. "Son Preference and Children’s Housework: The Case of India," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 32(4), pages 553-584, August.
    2. Luis Fernando Gamboa, 2014. "Pre-school contributions to future achievements," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 011084, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
    3. Maria Heracleous & Mario González & Paul Winters, 2016. "Conditional Cash Transfers and Schooling Decisions: Evidence from Urban Mexico," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 95639, Inter-American Development Bank.
    4. Daniela Vuri, 2010. "The Effect of Availability of School and Distance to School on Children's Time Allocation in Ghana," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 24(s1), pages 46-75, December.
    5. Hazarika, Gautam & Viren, Vejoya, 2013. "The effect of early childhood developmental program attendance on future school enrollment in rural North India," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 146-161.
    6. F. Blanco, 2007. "Children's work in Angola: an overview," UCW Working Paper 38, Understanding Children's Work (UCW Programme).

    More about this item


    child labor; schooling costs; India;

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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