Health Effects of Children's Work: Evidence from Vietnam
We test whether work in childhood impacts on health. We distinguish between urban and rural settings and focus on agricultural work, which is the dominant form of child work worldwide. We use a particularly rich two-wave panel data set – the 1993 and 1998 Vietnam Living Standards Surveys. The panel nature of the data and the availability of good instruments, makes it possible to correct for potential endogeneity arising from both unobservable heterogeneity and simultaneity. Instruments take the form of small area labour market and education conditions obtained from community surveys matched to individual records. We use two indicators of health – reported illness/injury and the body mass index. Both contemporaneous and longer-term effects of child work on health are examined. A variety of estimators and identification strategies are employed to deal with endogeneity. There is strong evidence of unobservable heterogeneity bias but little indication of simultaneity bias. In rural areas, we find no evidence of a contemporaneous impact of child work on health. However, there is evidence that work undertaken in rural settings during childhood raises the risk of illness five years later. In urban areas, there is some evidence that child work has a contemporaneous negative impact on health
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