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Household Choices of Child Labor and Schooling: A Simple Model with Application to Brazil

  • Kruger, Diana

    ()

    (Universidad Adolfo Ibañez)

  • Soares, Rodrigo R.

    ()

    (Sao Paulo School of Economics)

  • Berthelon, Matias

    ()

    (Universidad Adolfo Ibañez)

This paper develops and estimates a simple structural model of household decisions regarding child labor and schooling. We argue that part of the conflicting results from the previous literature – related to the effect of improvements in economic conditions on child labor – derives from the different income and substitution effects implicit in different types of income variation. Our model leads to an empirical specification where income and substitution effects can be clearly identified. We apply our model to Brazil and use agricultural shocks to local economic activity (coffee and overall agricultural production) to distinguish between the effects of increases in household income and increases in the opportunity cost of children’s time. The results show that higher parental wages and household wealth are associated with lower child labor and higher school attendance. Nevertheless, conditional on family income and socioeconomic status, exogenous temporary increases in local economic activity are associated with increased opportunity cost of children’s time and, therefore, higher child labor and lower schooling. The results reconcile economic theory with seemingly contradictory evidence from the previous empirical literature.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2776.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: May 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Human Resources, 2012, 47 (1), 1-31
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2776
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  1. Emerson, Patrick M & Souza, Andre Portela, 2003. "Is There a Child Labor Trap? Intergenerational Persistence of Child Labor in Brazil," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(2), pages 375-98, January.
  2. Eric V. Edmonds, 2005. "Does Child Labor Decline with Improving Economic Status?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(1).
  3. Eliana Cardoso & Andre Portela Souza, 2004. "The Impact of Cash Transfers on Child Labor and School Attendance in Brazil," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0407, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  4. Carol Rogers & Kenneth A. Swinnerton, 2002. "Does Child Labor Decrease When Parental Incomes Rises," Working Papers gueconwpa~02-02-02, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  5. Levison, Deborah & Moe, Karine S. & Marie Knaul, Felicia, 2001. "Youth Education and Work in Mexico," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 167-188, January.
  6. Basu, Kaushik & Van, Pham Hoang, 1998. "The Economics of Child Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 412-27, June.
  7. Victoria Gunnarsson & Peter F. Orazem & Mario A. Sánchez, 2006. "Child Labor and School Achievement in Latin America," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 20(1), pages 31-54.
  8. 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.
  9. Duryea, Suzanne & Arends-Kuenning, Mary, 2003. "School Attendance, Child Labor and Local Labor Market Fluctuations in Urban Brazil," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(7), pages 1165-1178, July.
  10. Edmonds, Eric V., 2008. "Child Labor," Handbook of Development Economics, Elsevier.
  11. Edmonds, Eric V., 2006. "Child labor and schooling responses to anticipated income in South Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 386-414, December.
  12. Schultz, T Paul, 1985. "Changing World Prices, Women's Wages, and the Fertility Transition: Sweden, 1860-1910," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1126-54, December.
  13. Kruger, Diana I., 2007. "Coffee production effects on child labor and schooling in rural Brazil," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 448-463, March.
  14. Beegle, Kathleen & Dehejia, Rajeev H. & Gatti, Roberta, 2006. "Child labor and agricultural shocks," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 80-96, October.
  15. Ranjan, P., 1999. ""Credit Constraints and the Phenomenon of Child Labor"," Papers 98-99-12, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
  16. FranÁois Bourguignon & Francisco H. G. Ferreira & Phillippe G. Leite, 2003. "Conditional Cash Transfers, Schooling, and Child Labor: Micro-Simulating Brazil's Bolsa Escola Program," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(2), pages 229-254, December.
  17. Dessy, Sylvain E., 2000. "A defense of compulsive measures against child labor," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 261-275, June.
  18. Black, Dan A. & McKinnish, Terra G. & Sanders, Seth G., 2003. "Does the availability of high-wage jobs for low-skilled men affect welfare expenditures? Evidence from shocks to the steel and coal industries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 1921-1942, September.
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