Chapter

Child Labor

Christopher Udry

in Understanding Poverty

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780195305197
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199783519 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195305191.003.0016
 Child Labor

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In order to construct effective policies to address the problem of child labor, it is necessary to understand the circumstances that lead parents to send their children to work. The essay is organized as follows. The second section briefly describes some of the main features of child labor in developing countries. The third section discusses the first of two features of child labor that give it a central place in a vicious cycle of poverty. This is the fact that the primary costs of child labor are realized so far in the future. When financial markets are poorly developed, the separation in time between the immediate benefits and long-delayed costs of sending children to work can result in too much child labor. The second feature is that the costs and benefits of child labor are not only separated in time; they are borne by different people: the child suffers the main consequences, while other household members benefit. This problem of agency is discussed in the fourth section. The fifth section concludes with a discussion of child labor policies.

Keywords: financial markets; agency; human capital; investments; social policy

Chapter.  7252 words. 

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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