IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The effect of child labor on mathematics and language achievement in Latin America

  • Sanchez, Mario A.
  • Orazem, Peter F.
  • Gunnarsson, Victoria

The authors use a unique data set on language, and mathematics test scores for third, and fourth graders in eleven different Latin American countries, to determine whether child labor raises or lowers school achievement. Their findings are amazingly consistent across countries. In every country, child labor lowers performance on tests of language and mathematics proficiency, even when controlling for school and household attributes. The magnitude of the effect is similar to the percentage reduction in adult wages from child labor reported by Ilahi, Sedlacek and Orazem. The adverse impact of child labor on test performance is larger when children work regularly, rather than occasionally. Even modest levels of child labor at early ages cause adverse consequences for the development of cognitive abilities. These findings strongly refute the presumptions that child labor may be neutral, or complementary to academic performance, provided that the child remains enrolled in school. Instead, child labor consistently makes a year of education less productive in the generation of human capital.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Social Protection Discussion Papers with number 32747.

in new window

Date of creation: 01 May 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:hdnspu:32747
Contact details of provider: Postal: 1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20433
Phone: (202) 477-1234
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Heady, Christopher, 2003. "The Effect of Child Labor on Learning Achievement," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 385-398, February.
  2. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Daniel R. Sherman, 1985. "Employment While in College, Academic Achievement and Post-College Outcomes: A Summary of Results," NBER Working Papers 1742, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:hdnspu:32747. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Raiden C. Dillard)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.