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Child farm labour : the wealth paradox

  • Bhalotra, Sonia
  • Heady, Christopher

This paper is motivated by the observation that children in land-rich households are often more likely to be in work than the children of land-poor households. The vast majority of working children in developing countries are in agricultural work, predominantly on farms operated by their families. Land is the most important store of wealth in agrarian societies and it is typically distributed very unequally. These facts challenge the common presumption that child labour emerges from the poorest households. We suggest that this seeming paradox can be explained by failures of the markets for labour and land. Credit market failure will tend to weaken the force of this paradox. We model these effects and estimate the model on data from rural Pakistan and Ghana. A striking finding of the paper is that, after controlling for household consumption and other covariates, the wealth paradox persists for girls but, for boys in both countries, it vanishes.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Social Protection Discussion Papers with number 24088.

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Date of creation: 31 Oct 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:hdnspu:24088
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  1. Ravallion, Martin & Wodon, Quentin, 2000. "Does Child Labour Displace Schooling? Evidence on Behavioural Responses to an Enrollment Subsidy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(462), pages C158-75, March.
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  3. Jafarey, Saqib & Lahiri, Sajal, 2002. "Will trade sanctions reduce child labour?: The role of credit markets," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 137-156, June.
  4. Ranjan Ray, 2000. "Analysis of child labour in Peru and Pakistan: A comparative study," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 3-19.
  5. John Knight & Sharada Weir, 2000. "Adoption and Diffusion of Agricultural Innovations in Ethiopia: The Role of Education," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2000-05, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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  8. Anne Case & I-Fen Lin & Sara McLanahan, 1999. "How Hungry is the Selfish Gene?," NBER Working Papers 7401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bhalotra, Sonia, 2001. "Is child work necessary?," Social Protection Discussion Papers 24660, The World Bank.
  10. Peter Jensen & Helena Skyt Nielsen, 1997. "Child labour or school attendance? Evidence from Zambia," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 407-424.
  11. Hanan G. Jacoby, 1993. "Shadow Wages and Peasant Family Labour Supply: An Econometric Application to the Peruvian Sierra," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(4), pages 903-921.
  12. Martin Browning, 1998. "Modelling commodity demands and labour supply with m-demands," Discussion Papers 99-08, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  13. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Case, 1994. "The Effect of Sibling Sex Composition on Women's Education and Earnings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 531-563.
  14. Cigno, Alessandro & Rosati, Furio Camillo & Tzannatos, Zafiris, 2001. "Child labor, nutrition, and education in rural India : an economic analysis of parental choice and policy options," Social Protection Discussion Papers 24081, The World Bank.
  15. Deolalikar, Anil B & Vijverberg, Wim P M, 1987. "A Test of Heterogeneity of Family and Hired Labour in Asian Agriculture," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 49(3), pages 291-305, August.
  16. Bhalotra, Sonia, 2002. "Parent Altruism," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2002 25, Royal Economic Society.
  17. Benjamin, Dwayne, 1992. "Household Composition, Labor Markets, and Labor Demand: Testing for Separation in Agricultural Household Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(2), pages 287-322, March.
  18. Eric Edmonds & Nina Pavcnik, 2002. "Does Globalization Increase Child Labor? Evidence from Vietnam," NBER Working Papers 8760, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. George Psacharopoulos & Harry Anthony Patrinos, 1997. "Family size, schooling and child labor in Peru - An empirical analysis," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 387-405.
  20. Glewwe, Paul, 1996. "The relevance of standard estimates of rates of return to schooling for education policy: A critical assessment," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 267-290, December.
  21. Ranjan, Priya, 1999. "An economic analysis of child labor," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 99-105, July.
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