Child labor : cause, consequence, and cure, with remarks on International Labor Standards
At least 120 million of the world's children aged 5 to 14 worked full-time in 1995, most of them under hazardous, unhygienic conditions, for more than 10 hours a day. This is an old problem worldwide but particularly so in Third World countries in recent decades. What has changed, with globalization, is our awareness of these child laborers. (The International Labor Organization distinguishes between"child work,"which could include light household chores and could have some learning value, and"child labor,"a pejorative phrase.) By bringing together the main theoretical ideas, the author hopes to encourage both more theoretical research and empirical work with a better theoretical foundation. Among other things, the author observes that: a) The problem is most serious in Africa, where the child-labor participation rate is 26.2 percent. The rate is 12.8 percent in Asia. But since 1950, the trend is a decline in that participation rate worldwide. For most Latin American countries, the decline is notable but less marked than in Asia. In large parts of Africa, including Ethiopia, the problem has been extremely persistent, but even there the trend is downward. b) Child labor has not always been considered evil, and there is no consensus on why it began to decline. In some (not all) countries legislative acts declared it illegal, in some there were rules about compulsory education, and increasing prosperity generally made families less likely to experience poverty if their children weren't working. c) Mandating compulsory education is regarded as more effective than outlawing child labor, because attendance at school is easier to monitor, but some experts believe economic progress is the answer to the problem. The justification for many interventions is that the state is more concerned about the well-being of children than parents are; the author believes such an assumption to be wrong when child labor occurs as a mass phenomenon rather than as isolated abuse. The author argues that, in some economies, the market for labor may exhibit multiple equilibria, with one equilibrium having low adult wage and a high incidence of child labor and another equilibrium exhibiting high adult wage and no child labor. The model is used to provide a framework for analyzing the role of international labor standards.
|Date of creation:||31 Dec 1998|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: (202) 477-1234
Web page: http://www.worldbank.org/
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.:
- Rosenzweig, Mark R & Evenson, Robert E, 1977. "Fertility, Schooling, and the Economic Contribution of Children in Rural India: An Econometric Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(5), pages 1065-79, July.
- Ray, R., 1998.
"Analysis of Child Labour in Peru and Pakistan: a Comparative Study,"
1998-05, Tasmania - Department of Economics.
- 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.
- Sonia Bhalotra, 2003. "Child Labour in Africa," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 4, OECD Publishing.
- Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1993.
"Income Distribution and Macroeconomics,"
Review of Economic Studies,
Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52, January.
- Folbre, Nancy, 1986. "Hearts and spades: Paradigms of household economics," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 245-255, February.
- Goldin, Claudia, 1979.
"Household and market production of families in a late nineteenth century American city,"
Explorations in Economic History,
Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 111-131, April.
- Claudia Goldin, 1978. "Household and Market Production of Families in a Late Nineteenth Century American City," Working Papers 495, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
- Carol Ann Rogers & Kenneth A. Swinnerton, 1999.
"The Economics of Child Labor: Comment,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1382-1385, December.
- 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.
- Browning, Martin & Francois Bourguignon & Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Valerie Lechene, 1994.
"Income and Outcomes: A Structural Model of Intrahousehold Allocation,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1067-96, December.
- Browning, M. & Bourguignon, F. & Chiappori, P.A. & Lechene, V., 1992. "Incomes and Outcomes: A structural Model of Intra-Household Allocation," DELTA Working Papers 92-23, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
- Ljungqvist, Lars, 1993. "Economic underdevelopment : The case of a missing market for human capital," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 219-239, April.
- Manser, Marilyn & Brown, Murray, 1980. "Marriage and Household Decision-Making: A Bargaining Analysis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(1), pages 31-44, February.
- Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993.
"Occupational Choice and the Process of Development,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-98, April.
- Abhijit V. Banerjee & Andrew F. Newman, 1990. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Discussion Papers 911, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- George Psacharopoulos, 1997. "Child labor versus educational attainment Some evidence from Latin America," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 377-386.
- Jensen, P. & Nielsen, H.S., 1996.
"Child Labour or School Attendance? Evidence from Zambia,"
96-14, Centre for Labour Market and Social Research, Danmark-.
- 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.
- Drusilla K. Brown, 1998. "A Transactions Cost Politics Analysis of International Child Labor Standards," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 9819, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
- Gupta, Manash Ranjan, 2000. "Wage Determination of a Child Worker: A Theoretical Analysis," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(2), pages 219-28, June.
- Bina Agarwal, 1997. "''Bargaining'' and Gender Relations: Within and Beyond the Household," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(1), pages 1-51.
- Bardhan, Pranab & Udry, Christopher, 1999. "Development Microeconomics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198773719, March.
- Chwe, Michael Suk-Young, 1990. "Why Were Workers Whipped? Pain in a Principal-Agent Model," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(403), pages 1109-21, December.
- Moehling, Carolyn M., 1999. "State Child Labor Laws and the Decline of Child Labor," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 72-106, January.
- 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.
- MacKinnon, Mary & Johnson, Paul, 1984. "The case against productive whipping," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 218-223, April.
- Besley, T. & Coate, S., 1990.
"Understanding Welfare Stigma: Taxpayer Resentment And Statistical Discrimination,"
42, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
- Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1992. "Understanding welfare stigma: Taxpayer resentment and statistical discrimination," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 165-183, July.
- Francois, Patrick, 1998. "Gender discrimination without gender difference: theory and policy responses," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 1-32, April.
- McElroy, Marjorie B & Horney, Mary Jean, 1981. "Nash-Bargained Household Decisions: Toward a Generalization of the Theory of Demand," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(2), pages 333-49, June.
- Basu, Kaushik & Foster, James E, 1998.
"On Measuring Literacy,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(451), pages 1733-49, November.
- Baland, J.M. & Robinson, J.A., 1998.
"A Model of Child Labor,"
9803, Southern California - Department of Economics.
- Udry, Christopher, 1996. "Gender, Agricultural Production, and the Theory of the Household," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 1010-46, October.
- 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.
- Margo, Robert A. & Aldrich Finegan, T., 1996.
"Compulsory schooling legislation and school attendance in turn-of-the century America: A 'natural experiment' approach,"
Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 103-110, October.
- Robert A. Margo & T. Aldrich Finegan, 1996. "Compulsory Schooling Legislation and School Attendance in Turn-of-the-Century America: A "Natural Experiment" Approach," NBER Historical Working Papers 0089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Nardinelli, Clark, 1982. "Corporal punishment and children's wages in nineteenth century Britain," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 283-295, July.
- Duncan Thomas, 1990.
"Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach,"
Journal of Human Resources,
University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 635-664.
- Thomas, D., 1989. "Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach," Papers 586, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
- Douglas A. Galbi, 1997. "Child labor and the division of labor in the early English cotton mills," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 357-375.
- Nardinelli, Clark, 1984. "The productivity of corporal punishment : A reply to MacKinnon and Johnson," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 224-228, April.
- Strauss, J. & Thomas, D., 1995. "Empirical Modeling of Household and Family Decisions," Papers 95-12, RAND - Reprint Series.
- 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.
- Strauss, John & Thomas, Duncan, 1995. "Human resources: Empirical modeling of household and family decisions," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 34, pages 1883-2023 Elsevier.
- Glomm, Gerhard, 1997. "Parental choice of human capital investment," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 99-114, June.
- Horrell Sara & Humphries Jane, 1995. "The Exploitation of Little Children: Child Labor and the Family Economy in the Industrial Revolution," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 485-516, October.
- Douglas Kruse & Douglas Mahony, 1998. "Illegal Child Labor in the United States: Prevalence and Characteristics," NBER Working Papers 6479, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2027. 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: (Roula I. Yazigi)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.