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Birth Order, Child Labor and School Attendance in Brazil

Author

Listed:
  • Patrick M. Emerson

    (Department of Economics, University of Colorado at Denver)

  • Andre Portela Souza

    (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Patrick M. Emerson & Andre Portela Souza, 2002. "Birth Order, Child Labor and School Attendance in Brazil," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0212, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0212
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Child labor; school attendance; birth order; brazil;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O54 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean

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