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Poverty Alleviation and Child Labor

  • Eric V. Edmonds
  • Norbert Schady

How important are subsistence concerns in a family's decision to send a child to work? We consider this question in Ecuador, where poor families are selected at random to receive a cash transfer that is equivalent to 7 percent of monthly expenditures. Winning the cash transfer lottery is associated with a decline in work for pay away from the child's home. The cash transfer is greater than the rise in schooling costs that comes with the end of primary school, but it is less than 20 percent of the income paid to child laborers in the labor market. Despite being less than foregone earnings, poor families seem to use the lottery award to delay the child's entry into paid employment and protect the child's schooling status. Schooling expenditures rise with the lottery, but total expenditures in the household decline relative to the control population because of foregone child labor earnings.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15345.

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Date of creation: Sep 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Eric V. Edmonds & Norbert Schady, 2012. "Poverty Alleviation and Child Labor," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 100-124, November.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15345
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