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Explaining Variation in Child Labor Statistics

  • Dillon, Andrew

    ()

    (Michigan State University)

  • Bardasi, Elena

    ()

    (World Bank)

  • Beegle, Kathleen

    ()

    (World Bank)

  • Serneels, Pieter

    ()

    (University of East Anglia)

Child labor statistics are critical for assessing the extent and nature of child labor activities in developing countries. In practice, widespread variation exists in how child labor is measured. Questionnaire modules vary across countries and within countries over time along several dimensions, including respondent type and the structure of the questionnaire. Little is known about the effect of these differences on child labor statistics. This paper presents the results from a randomized survey experiment in Tanzania focusing on two survey aspects: different questionnaire design to classify children work and proxy response versus self-reporting. Use of a short module compared with a more detailed questionnaire has a statistically significant effect, especially on child labor force participation rates, and, to a lesser extent, on working hours. Proxy reports do not differ significantly from a child’s self-report. Further analysis demonstrates that survey design choices affect the coefficient estimates of some determinants of child labor in a child labor supply equation. The results suggest that low-cost changes to questionnaire design to clarify the concept of work for respondents can improve the data collected.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5156.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Development Economics, 2012, 98 (1),136-147
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5156
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  1. Sonia Bhalotra & Christopher Heady, 2003. "Child Farm Labor: The Wealth Paradox," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(2), pages 197-227, December.
  2. Edmonds, Eric V. & Schady, Norbert, 2008. "Poverty alleviation and child labor," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4702, The World Bank.
  3. Eric V. Edmonds, 2003. "Does Child Labor Decline with Improving Economic Status?," NBER Working Papers 10134, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Basu, Kaushik & Van, Pham Hoang, 1998. "The Economics of Child Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 412-27, June.
  5. Bardasi, Elena & Beegle, Kathleen & Dillon, Andrew & Serneels, Pieter, 2010. "Do labor statistics depend on how and to whom the questions are asked ? results from a survey experiment in Tanzania," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5192, The World Bank.
  6. L. Guarcello & I. Kovrova & S. Lyon & M. Manacorda & F. C. Rosati, 2010. "Towards consistency in child labour measurement: Assessing the comparability of estimates generated by different survey instruments," UCW Working Paper 54, Understanding Children's Work (UCW Programme).
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