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Revisiting the link between poverty and child labor - the Ghanaian experience


  • Blunch,Niels-Hugo
  • Verner,Dorte


The link between poverty, and child labor has traditionally been regarded as well established. But recent research has questioned the validity of this link, claiming that poverty is not a main determinant of child labor. Starting from the premise that child labor is not necessarily harmful, the authors analyze the determinants of harmful child labor, viewed as child labor that directly conflicts with children's accumulation of human capital, in an effort to identify the most vulnerable groups. Identifying these groups might enable policymakers to take appropriate action. The authors estimate the positive relationship between poverty, and child labor. Moreover, they find evidence of a gender gap in child labor, linked to poverty. Girls as a group (as well as across urban, rural, and poverty sub-samples) are consistently found to be more likely to engage in harmful child labor, than boys. This gender gap may reflect cultural norms (an issue that calls for further research). The incidence of child labor increases with age, especially for girls. In Ghana, there are structural differences - across gender, between rural and urban locations, and across poverty quintiles of households - in the processes underlying child labor.

Suggested Citation

  • Blunch,Niels-Hugo & Verner,Dorte, 2000. "Revisiting the link between poverty and child labor - the Ghanaian experience," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2488, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2488

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Canagarajah, Sudharshan & Coulombe, Harold, 1997. "Child labor and schooling in Ghana," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1844, The World Bank.
    2. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-1250.
    3. Lavy, Victor, 1996. "School supply constraints and children's educational outcomes in rural Ghana," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 291-314, December.
    4. Grootaert, Christiaan & Kanbur, Ravi, 1995. "Child labor : a review," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1454, The World Bank.
    5. Basu, Kaushik & Van, Pham Hoang, 1998. "The Economics of Child Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 412-427, June.
    6. Nielsen, H.S., 1998. "Child Labor and School Attendance: Two Joint Decisions," Papers 98-15, Centre for Labour Market and Social Research, Danmark-.
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    More about this item


    Poverty Assessment; Street Children; Children and Youth; Labor Standards; Youth and Governance;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration


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