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Birth Order, Child Labor and School Attendance in Brazil

  • Patrick M. Emerson

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Colorado at Denver)

  • Andre Portela Souza

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

This paper examines the effects of birth order on the child labor incidence and school attendance of Brazilian children. Evidence from the psychology and sociology literature suggests that earlier-born children tend to have higher innate abilities. The economic implications of these findings are that earlier-born children may have more intra-household resources directed to them when they are young, and better outcomes as adults in areas such as education and earnings. However, in the context of child labor, the effects of birth order can be confounded by the fact that earlier born children are able to command higher wages than their younger siblings. Also, in the presence of capital constraints, poor families may not be able to afford to send their earlier born children to school, but may be able to send their later-born children due to the income earned by their older siblings. This paper presents both a theoretical discussion and an empirical investigation of the relationship between birth order and child labor. The results from the empirical investigation show that, in fact, male first-born children are less likely to attend school than their later born siblings and that male last-born children are less likely to work as child laborers than their earlier born siblings. For female children, first-borns are less likely to go to school than their later born counterparts. These findings are intriguing as they run counter to the received wisdom of the effects of birth order, but make sense when considering the child labor decision of poor families in the face of capital constraints.

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File URL: http://www.accessecon.com/pubs/VUECON/vu02-w12.pdf
File Function: First version, 2002
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Paper provided by Vanderbilt University Department of Economics in its series Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers with number 0212.

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Date of creation: May 2002
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Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0212
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/econ/wparchive/index.html

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  1. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Schultz, T Paul, 1982. "Market Opportunities, Genetic Endowments, and Intrafamily Resource Distribution: Child Survival in Rural India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 803-15, September.
  2. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Schultz, T. Paul, 1987. "Fertility and Investments in Human Capital: Estimates of the Consequences of Imperfect Fertility Control in Malaysia," Bulletins 7513, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
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  5. Jean-Marie Baland & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Is Child Labor Inefficient?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 663-679, August.
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  7. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1976. "Child Endowments, and the Quantity and Quality of Children," NBER Working Papers 0123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Behrman, Jere R & Taubman, Paul, 1986. "Birth Order, Schooling, and Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages S121-45, July.
  10. Hanushek, Eric A, 1992. "The Trade-Off between Child Quantity and Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 84-117, February.
  11. Emerson, Patrick M & Souza, Andre Portela, 2003. "Is There a Child Labor Trap? Intergenerational Persistence of Child Labor in Brazil," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(2), pages 375-98, January.
  12. André Portela Souza, 2007. "Child Labor, School Attendance, and Intrahousehold Gender Bias in Brazil," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 21(2), pages 301-316, March.
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  15. de Janvry, Alain & Finan, Frederico & Sadoulet, Elisabeth & Vakis, Renos, 2006. "Can conditional cash transfer programs serve as safety nets in keeping children at school and from working when exposed to shocks?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 349-373, April.
  16. Luis Felipe López Calva, 2002. "A social stigma model of child labor," Estudios Económicos, El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Económicos, vol. 17(2), pages 193-217.
  17. Patrick M. Emerson & Shawn D. Knabb, 2006. "Opportunity, Inequality and the Intergenerational Transmission of Child Labour," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 73(291), pages 413-434, 08.
  18. Kessler, Daniel, 1991. "Birth Order, Family Size, and Achievement: Family Structure and Wage Determination," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(4), pages 413-26, October.
  19. 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.
  20. Horowitz, Andrew W. & Wang, Jian, 2004. "Favorite son? Specialized child laborers and students in poor LDC households," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 631-642, April.
  21. Behrman, Jere R., 1988. "Nutrition, health, birth order and seasonality : Intrahousehold allocation among children in rural India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 43-62, February.
  22. Becker, Gary S & Lewis, H Gregg, 1973. "On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S279-88, Part II, .
  23. Rose, Elaina, 2000. "Gender Bias, Credit Constraints and Time Allocation in Rural India," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(465), pages 738-58, July.
  24. Behrman, Jere R & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Taubman, Paul, 1994. "Endowments and the Allocation of Schooling in the Family and in the Marriage Market: The Twins Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1131-74, December.
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