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Child labor : a review

  • Grootaert, Christiaan
  • Kanbur, Ravi

On September 30, 1990, the first World Summit for Children promised to reduce child mortality and malnutrition. It set targets to be reached by the year 2000. Although it established no explicit goals on child labor, the targets included basic education for all children and the completion of primary education by at least 80 percent of children. Meeting these goals will reduce child labor, say the authors. The evidence they review shows that education intervention play a key role in reducing child labor and should play a key role in its eventual abolition. But other interventions are also needed, including legislative action, appropriate labor market policies, fertility interventions, the adoption of technology, and better job opportunities for parents. There must also be advocates for better conditions for working children and for the empowerment of children and their families. An encouraging consensus is emerging - both in the literature and in the policies of international agencies concerned with child labor - that action, to be effective, must aim first to protect children and improve their living and working conditions. This implies a less stigmatized view of child labor, and the recognition that child labor itself can be used as a targeting device to help children through health, nutrition, schooling, and other interventions. In the long term, the objective of eliminating child labor must be approached through legislative action combined with social and economic incentives that take into account not only the types of child labor and child labor arrangements in a country but that country's institutional and administrative capacity.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1454.

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Date of creation: 31 May 1995
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1454
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  1. Hotz, V Joseph & Miller, Robert A, 1988. "An Empirical Analysis of Life Cycle Fertility and Female Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 91-118, January.
  2. Jacoby, Hanan G & Skoufias, Emmanuel, 1997. "Risk, Financial Markets, and Human Capital in a Developing Country," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 311-35, July.
  3. 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.
  4. Cochrane, S. & Kozel, V. & Alderman, H., 1990. "Household consequences of high fertility in Pakistan," World Bank - Discussion Papers 111, World Bank.
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