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Why should we care about child labor? The education, labor market, and health consequences of child labor

  • Beegle, Kathleen
  • Dehejia, Rajeev
  • Gatti, Roberta

Although there is extensive literature on the determinants of child labor and many initiatives aimed at combating it, there is limited evidence on the consequences of child labor on socioeconomic outcomes such as education, wages, and health. The authors evaluate the causal effect of child labor participation on these outcomes using panel data from Vietnam and an instrumental variables strategy. Five years subsequent to the child labor experience, they find significant negative effects on school participation and educational attainment, but also find substantially higher earnings for those (young) adults who worked as children. The authors find no significant effects on health. Over a longer horizon, they estimate that from age 30 onward the forgone earnings attributable to lost schooling exceed any earnings gain associated with child labor and that the net present discounted value of child labor is positive for discount rates of 11.5 percent or higher. The authors show that child labor is prevalent among households likely to have higher borrowing costs, that are farther from schools, and whose adult members experienced negative returns to their own education. This evidence suggests that reducing child labor will require facilitating access to credit and will also require households to be forward looking.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3479.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2005
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3479
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  1. 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.
  2. Edmonds & Eric V., 2004. "Household composition and the response of child labor supply to product market integration: evidence from Vietnam," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3235, The World Bank.
  3. Loren Brandt & Dwayne Benjamin, 2002. "Agriculture and Income Distribution in Rural Vietnam under Economic Reforms: A Tale of Two Regions," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 519, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
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  8. 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.
  9. Psacharopoulos, George & Patrinos, Harry Anthony, 2002. "Returns to investment in education : a further update," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2881, The World Bank.
  10. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Wolpin, Kenneth I., 1984. "Specific Experience, Household Structure and Intergenerational Transfers: Farm Family Land and Labor Arrangements in Developing Countries," Bulletins 8432, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
  11. Sonia Bhalotra & Christopher Heady, 2003. "Child Farm Labor: The Wealth Paradox," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(2), pages 197-227, December.
  12. Edmonds, Eric & Turk, Carrie, 2002. "Child labor in transition in Vietnam," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2774, The World Bank.
  13. Orley Ashenfelter & Cecilia Rouse, 1997. "Income, Schooling, and Ability: Evidence from a New Sample of Identical Twins," NBER Working Papers 6106, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Moock, Peter R. & Patrinos, Harry Anthony & Venkataraman, Meera, 2003. "Education and earnings in a transition economy: the case of Vietnam," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 503-510, October.
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  16. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 313-36, June.
  17. O.O'Donnell & F.Rosati & E.van Doorslaer, 2003. "Health Effects of Children's Work: Evidence from Vietnam," UCW Working Paper 2, Understanding Children's Work (UCW Programme).
  18. Beegle, Kathleen & Dehejia, Rajeev H & Gatti, Roberta, 2005. "Child Labour, Crop Shocks and Credit Constraints," CEPR Discussion Papers 4881, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  19. Morduch, Jonathan, 1994. "Poverty and Vulnerability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 221-25, May.
  20. Basu, Kaushik, 1998. "Child labor : cause, consequence, and cure, with remarks on International Labor Standards," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2027, The World Bank.
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  22. Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 16-88, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  23. Canagarajah, Sudharshan & Nielsen, Helena Skyt, 1999. "Child labor and schooling in Africa : a comparative study," Social Protection Discussion Papers 20456, The World Bank.
  24. Edmonds & Eric V. & Pavcnik, Nina, 2004. "Product market integration and household labor supply in a poor economy: evidence from Vietnam," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3234, The World Bank.
  25. Geoffrey Lancaster & Ranjan Ray, 2004. "Does Child Labour Affect School Attendance and School Performance?Multi Country Evidence on SIMPOC data," Econometric Society 2004 Australasian Meetings 68, Econometric Society.
  26. FurioCamillo Rosati & Zafiris Tzannatos, 2006. "Child Labour In Vietnam," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(1), pages 1-31, 02.
  27. Heady, Christopher, 2003. "The Effect of Child Labor on Learning Achievement," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 385-398, February.
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