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Income Contributions of Child Work in Rural Ethiopia


  • John Cockburn

    (Laval University, Quebec, Canada)


The income contribution of child work is undoubtedly a key factor influencing child work and schooling decisions. Yet, few studies have attempted to directly measure this contribution. This is particularly the case for work performed on the household farm, as is the case for the vast majority of child workers, rather than for wages. In this study, we estimate a household income function with child labour included as an input. Results using a variety of functional forms and alternative child labour variables are compared. We conclude that children and adults are perfect labour substitutes and that the marginal productivity of children is roughly one-third to one-half that of male adults. The average contribution of each working child is estimated at 4 to 7% of household income, although there is substantial variation with contributions ranging up to 50%. These results underline the dependency of poor households on child work for survival.

Suggested Citation

  • John Cockburn, 2004. "Income Contributions of Child Work in Rural Ethiopia," Development and Comp Systems 0409051, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpdc:0409051
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 68

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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. Christopher B. Barrett & Shane M. Sherlund & Akinwumi A. Adesina, 2008. "Shadow wages, allocative inefficiency, and labor supply in smallholder agriculture," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 38(1), pages 21-34, January.
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    15. Sharada Weir & John Knight, 2000. "Education externalities in rural Ethiopia: evidence from average and stochastic frontier production functions," CSAE Working Paper Series 2000-04, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
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    Cited by:

    1. Isaac Koomson & Simplice A. Asongu, 2016. "Relative Contribution of Child Labour to Household Farm and Non-Farm Income in Ghana: Simulation with Child's Education," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 28(1), pages 104-115, March.
    2. Indri Ariyanti & Taufiq Marwa & Nurlina Tarmizi & Bambang Bemby Soebyakto, 2016. "Child Labor In Palembang," Eurasian Journal of Social Sciences, Eurasian Publications, vol. 4(3), pages 36-47.
    3. repec:ilo:ilowps:374097 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. L.Guarcello & S.Lyon & F.Rosati, 2006. "The Twin Challenges of Child labour and Youth Employment in Ethiopia," UCW Working Paper 18, Understanding Children's Work (UCW Programme).
    5. Nicola Jones & Andy Sumner, 2009. "Does Mixed Methods Research Matter to Understanding Childhood Well-Being?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 90(1), pages 33-50, January.

    More about this item


    child labour; schooling; Ethiopia; household production;

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets

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