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A Theory of Exploitative Child Labor

  • Carol Ann Rogers

    (Georgetown University)

  • Kenneth A. Swinnerton

    (U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs)

We develop a model of exploitative child labor with two key features: first, parents have imperfect information about whether employment opportunities available to their children are exploitative or not. Second, firms choose whether or not to exploit their child workers. In our model, a ban on exploitative child labor is desirable, because it resolves the problem of imperfect information faced by parents, and therefore leads to Pareto efficiency. We also find that a ban leads to an increase in the wages of child workers, and that firm profits, even for firms that do not exploit child workers, fall. Finally, a ban has ambiguous effects at the macroeconomic level: aggregate child employment and aggregate output can rise or fall.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Development and Comp Systems with number 0306005.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 25 Jun 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpdc:0306005
Note: Type of Document - ; pages: 28
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  1. Albrecht, James W & Axell, Bo, 1983. "An Equilibrium Model of Search Unemployment," Working Paper Series 99, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  2. Dessy, Sylvain E. & Pallage, Stephane, 2001. "Child labor and coordination failures," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 469-476, August.
  3. Basu, Kaushik & Van, Pham Hoang, 1998. "The Economics of Child Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 412-27, June.
  4. Kenneth A. Swinnerton, 1997. "An Essay on Economic Efficiency and Core Labour Standards," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(1), pages 73-86, 01.
  5. Sylvain E. Dessy & Stéphane Pallage, 2005. "A Theory of the Worst Forms of Child Labour," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 68-87, 01.
  6. Jean-Marie Baland & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Is Child Labor Inefficient?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 663-679, August.
  7. Kenneth A. Swinnerton & Carol Ann Rogers, 1999. "The Economics of Child Labor: Comment," Labor and Demography 9903002, EconWPA.
  8. Arnab K. Basu & Nancy H. Chau, 2003. "Targeting Child Labor in Debt Bondage: Evidence, Theory, and Policy Implications," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(2), pages 255-281, December.
  9. Arnab K. Basu & Nancy H. Chau, 2004. "Exploitation of Child Labor and the Dynamics of Debt Bondage," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 209-238, 06.
  10. Basu, Kaushik, 1998. "Child labor : cause, consequence, and cure, with remarks on International Labor Standards," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2027, The World Bank.
  11. Ranjan, Priya, 2001. "Credit constraints and the phenomenon of child labor," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 81-102, February.
  12. Sylvain Dessy & Stéphane Pallage, 2003. "The Economics of Child Trafficking," Cahiers de recherche 0323, CIRPEE.
  13. E. Paul Durrenberger, 2005. "Labour," Chapters, in: A Handbook of Economic Anthropology, chapter 8 Edward Elgar.
  14. Natalia T. Tamirisa & R. B. Johnston, 1998. "Why Do Countries Use Capital Controls?," IMF Working Papers 98/181, International Monetary Fund.
  15. Swinnerton, Kenneth A, 1996. "Minimum Wages in an Equilibrium Search Model with Diminishing Returns to Labor in Production," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(2), pages 340-55, April.
  16. Carol Ann Rogers & Kenneth A. Swinnerton, 1999. "Inequality, Productivity, and Child Labor," Labor and Demography 9907003, EconWPA, revised 30 Jul 1999.
  17. Sylvain Dessy & Désiré Vencatachellum, 2002. "Explaining Cross-Country Differences in Policy Response to Child Labour," Cahiers de recherche 02-03, HEC Montréal, Institut d'économie appliquée.
  18. Eric V. Edmonds & Nina Pavcnik, 2005. "Child Labor in the Global Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 199-220, Winter.
  19. Genicot, Garance, 2002. "Bonded labor and serfdom: a paradox of voluntary choice," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 101-127, February.
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