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Perverse Consequences of Well Intentioned Regulation: Evidence from India's Child Labor Ban

Listed author(s):
  • Prashant Bharadwaj
  • Leah K. Lakdawala
  • Nicholas Li
Registered author(s):

    While bans against child labor are a common policy tool, there is very little empirical evidence validating their effectiveness. In this paper, we examine the consequences of India's landmark legislation against child labor, the Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986. Using data from employment surveys conducted before and after the ban, and using age restrictions that determined who the ban applied to, we show that child wages decrease and child labor increases after the ban. These results are consistent with a theoretical model building on the seminal work of Basu and Van (1998) and Basu (2005), where families use child labor to reach subsistence constraints and where child wages decrease in response to bans, leading poor families to utilize more child labor. The increase in child labor comes at the expense of reduced school enrollment. We also examine the effects of the ban at the household level. Using linked consumption and expenditure data, we find that along various margins of household expenditure, consumption, calorie intake and asset holdings, households are worse off after the ban.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19602.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19602.

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    Date of creation: Oct 2013
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19602
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    1. Jafarey, Saqib & Lahiri, Sajal, 1999. "Will trade sanctions reduce child labour? The role of credit markets," Economics Discussion Papers 10004, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    2. Robert T. Jensen & Nolan H. Miller, 2010. "A Revealed Preference Approach to Measuring Hunger and Undernutrition," NBER Working Papers 16555, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Marco Manacorda, 2006. "Child Labor and the Labor Supply of Other Household Members: Evidence from 1920 America," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1788-1801, December.
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    7. Kaushik Basu, 1999. "Child Labor: Cause, Consequence, and Cure, with Remarks on International Labor Standards," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1083-1119, September.
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    10. Sonia R Bhalotra, 2000. "Is Child Work Necessary?," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers 26, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    11. Kaushik Basu, 2004. "Child labor and the Law: Notes on Possible Pathologies," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2052, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    12. Stigler, George J, 1992. "Law or Economics?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(2), pages 455-468, October.
    13. Gary Solon & Steven J. Haider & Jeffrey Wooldridge, 2013. "What Are We Weighting For?," NBER Working Papers 18859, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Kirk Doran, 2012. "How Does Child Labor Affect the Demand for Adult Labor? Evidence from Rural Mexico," Working Papers 016, University of Notre Dame, Department of Economics, revised Aug 2012.
    15. M.Biggeri & L.Guarcello & S.Lyon & F.Rosati, 2003. "The Puzzle of 'Idle' Children: Neither in School nor performing Economic Activity: Evidence from six Countries," UCW Working Paper 5, Understanding Children's Work (UCW Programme).
    16. Joshua S. Graff Zivin & Harsha Thirumurthy & Markus Goldstein, 2006. "AIDS Treatment and Intrahousehold Resource Allocations: Children's Nutrition and Schooling in Kenya," NBER Working Papers 12689, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Chin, Aimee, 2005. "Can redistributing teachers across schools raise educational attainment? Evidence from Operation Blackboard in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 384-405, December.
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    21. Boockmann, Bernhard, 2010. "The Effect of ILO Minimum Age Conventions on Child Labor and School Attendance: Evidence From Aggregate and Individual-Level Data," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 679-692, May.
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