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Inequality, Productivity, and Child Labor


  • Carol Ann Rogers

    (Georgetown University)

  • Kenneth A. Swinnerton

    (U.S. Department of Labor)


We extend the “general model” in Basu and Van (1998) to allow for different types of hosueholds, and extend the model in Swinnerton and Rogers (1999) to allow for a more general utility function. Our new findings are (i) while in some contexts, a more equal income distribution can reduce or eliminate child labor, in others, a more equal distribution of income can exacerbate child labor. (ii) In these latter contexts, increases in total factor productivity are particularly effective in reducing child labor. This work takes the literature a step closer towards informing decisions as to the conditions under which a country needs active financial assistance in addressing child labor, and also those under which political or moral suasion are feasible international policy approaches to eliminating child labor in a country.

Suggested Citation

  • Carol Ann Rogers & Kenneth A. Swinnerton, 1999. "Inequality, Productivity, and Child Labor," Labor and Demography 9907003, EconWPA, revised 30 Jul 1999.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpla:9907003
    Note: Type of Document - Word Document; prepared on IBM PC; to print on HP; pages: 43 ; figures: included

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Card, 1990. "The Impact of the Mariel Boatlift on the Miami Labor Market," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(2), pages 245-257, January.
    2. George J. Borjas & Richard B. Freeman & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "On the Labor Market Effects of Immigration and Trade," NBER Chapters,in: Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas, pages 213-244 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Timothy J. Bartik, 2000. "Displacement and Wage Effects of Welfare Reform," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers,in: David E. Card & Rebecca M. Blank (ed.), Finding Jobs: Work and Welfare Reform, pages 72-122 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    4. Rebecca M. Blank, 2001. "What Causes Public Assistance Caseloads to Grow?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(1), pages 85-118.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carol Ann Rogers & Kenneth A. Swinnerton, 2008. "A theory of exploitative child labor," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 20-41, January.
    2. Edmonds, Eric V. & Pavcnik, Nina, 2006. "International trade and child labor: Cross-country evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 115-140, January.
    3. Eric V. Edmonds, 2005. "Does Child Labor Decline with Improving Economic Status?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(1).
    4. Giorgio Bellettini & Carlotta Berti Ceroni & Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano, 2005. "Child Labour and Resistance to Change," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 72(3), pages 397-411, August.
    5. Busse, Matthias & Braun, Sebastian, 2004. "Export Structure, FDI and Child Labour," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 19, pages 804-829.
    6. Jayanta Sarkar & Dipanwita Sarkar, 2016. "Why Does Child Labor Persist With Declining Poverty?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(1), pages 139-158, January.
    7. Heather Congdon Fors, 2012. "Child Labour: A Review Of Recent Theory And Evidence With Policy Implications," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(4), pages 570-593, September.
    8. Drusilla K. Brown & Alan V. Deardorff & Robert M. Stern, 2009. "The Effects of Multinational Production on Wages and Working Conditions in Developing Countries," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Globalization And International Trade Policies, chapter 17, pages 623-687 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    9. Drusilla K. Brown & Alan V. Deardorff & Robert M. Stern, 2001. "Child Labor: Theory, Evidence and Policy," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0111, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    10. Ranjan, Priya, 2001. "Credit constraints and the phenomenon of child labor," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 81-102, February.
    11. Drusilla K. Brown, 2001. "Labor Standards: Where Do They Belong on the International Trade Agenda?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 89-112, Summer.
    12. Jackline Wahba, 2001. "Child Labor and Poverty Transmission: No Room For Dreams," Working Papers 0108, Economic Research Forum, revised 03 2001.
    13. Carol Ann Rogers & Kenneth A. Swinnerton, 2004. "Does Child Labor Decrease When Parental Incomes Rise?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 939-968, August.
    14. Jellal, Mohamed & Tarbalouti, Essaid, 2012. "Institutions éducation et travail des enfants
      [Institutions education and child labor]
      ," MPRA Paper 39384, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Aïssata COULIBALY, 2016. "Revisiting the Relationship between Financial Development and Child Labor in Developing Countries: Do Inequality and Institutions Matter?," Working Papers 201619, CERDI.
    16. Congdon Fors, Heather, 2007. "The Determinants of Rural Child Labor: An Application to India," Working Papers in Economics 256, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    Child Labor; Inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J4 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets

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