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Do International Labor Standards Contribute to the Persistence of the Child Labor Problem?

  • Matthias Doepke
  • Fabrizio Zilibotti

In recent years, a number of governments and consumer groups in rich countries have tried to discourage the use of child labor in poor countries through measures such as product boycotts and the imposition of international labor standards. The purported objective of such measures is to reduce the incidence of child labor in developing countries and thereby improve children's welfare. In this paper, we examine the effects of such policies from a political-economy perspective. We show that these types of international action on child labor tend to lower domestic political support within developing countries for banning child labor. Hence, international labor standards and product boycotts may delay the ultimate eradication of child labor.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15050.

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Date of creation: Jun 2009
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Publication status: published as Matthias Doepke & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2009. "International Labor Standards and the Political Economy of Child-Labor Regulation," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 508-518, 04-05.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15050
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