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Short- and long-term impacts of economic policies on child labor and schooling in Ghana

  • Blunch, Niels-Hugo
  • Canagarajah, Sudharshan
  • Goyal, Sangeeta

While the issue of child labor in developing countries has received increased attention in recent years, most of the empirical analysis has been based on one-time cross sectional samples. While this may give an idea of the incidence, and determinants of child labor at one point in time, it is silent about the dynamics of child labor over time, and sometimes may even influence policy choices against child labor adversely. This paper attempts to fill this void, analyzing the dynamics of child labor and schooling in Ghana, aiming at investigating the impact of broad economic reforms on child labor and schooling in the short, medium and long-run. Starting from a premise that the simple - direct - relationship between poverty and child labor, which has often been seen as the feature of child labor, may not adequately capture the multi-facetted nature of child labor, we find evidence of asymmetries in the child labor-poverty link, as well as quite complex dynamics in the evolution of child labor and schooling, and their determinants over time. Most notably, child labor is found to be responsive to poverty in the short run, but not in the long run, while child schooling is unaffected by poverty in the short run, but responds in the medium- to long run. These results suggested that child labor acts as an economic buffer of the household in the short run, regardless of changes in the economic environment, or perceptions of the latter, following economic reforms, thus supporting - and refining - the poverty explanation of child labor.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Social Protection Discussion Papers with number 25527.

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Date of creation: 31 May 2002
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:hdnspu:25527
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  1. Levy, Victor, 1985. "Cropping Pattern, Mechanization, Child Labor, and Fertility Behavior in a Farming Economy: Rural Egypt," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(4), pages 777-91, July.
  2. Canagarajah, Sudharshan & Coulombe, Harold, 1997. "Child labor and schooling in Ghana," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1844, The World Bank.
  3. Ravallion, Martin & Wodon, Quentin, 1999. "Does child labor displace schooling? - evidence on behavioral responses to an enrollment subsidy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2116, The World Bank.
  4. Ray, Ranjan, 2000. "Child Labor, Child Schooling, and Their Interaction with Adult Labor: Empirical Evidence for Peru and Pakistan," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 14(2), pages 347-67, May.
  5. 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.
  6. Demery, Lionel & Addison, Tony, 1993. "The impact of macroeconomic adjustment on poverty in the presence of wage rigidities," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 331-348, April.
  7. Pramila Krishnan & Stefan Dercon, 1997. "In sickness and in health ... risk-sharing within households in rural Ethiopia," CSAE Working Paper Series 1997-12, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  8. Parsons, Donald O & Goldin, Claudia, 1989. "Parental Altruism and Self-Interest: Child Labor among Late Nineteenth-Century American Families," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 27(4), pages 637-59, October.
  9. Doss, Cheryl R., 1996. "Testing among models of intrahousehold resource allocation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(10), pages 1597-1609, October.
  10. Basu, Kaushik & Van, Pham Hoang, 1998. "The Economics of Child Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 412-27, June.
  11. Yasuyuki Sawada, 1997. "Human Capital Investments in Pakistan: Implications of Micro Evidence from Rural Households," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 36(4), pages 695-712.
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