Advertisement

Journal of Economic Growth

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 1–31 | Cite as

Do international labor standards contribute to the persistence of the child-labor problem?

  • Matthias Doepke
  • Fabrizio Zilibotti
Article

Abstract

In recent years, a number of governments and consumer groups in rich countries have tried to discourage the use of child-labor in poor countries through measures such as product boycotts and the imposition of international labor standards. The purported objective of such measures is to reduce the incidence of child-labor in developing countries and thereby improve children’s welfare. In this paper, we examine the effects of such policies from a political-economy perspective. We show that these types of international action on child-labor tend to lower domestic political support within developing countries for banning child-labor. Hence, international labor standards and product boycotts may delay the ultimate eradication of child-labor.

Keywords

Child labor Political economy International labor standards Trade sanctions 

JEL Classification

J20 J88 O10 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Acemoglu D., & Angrist, J. D. (2001). How large are human capital externalities? Evidence from compulsory schooling laws. NBER Macroeconomics Annual, 2000, 9–59.Google Scholar
  2. Angrist J. D., Krueger A. B. (1991) Does compulsory school attendance affect schooling and earnings?. The Quarterly Journal of Economics 106(4): 979–1014CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baland, J.-M., & Duprez, C. (2007). Are fair trade labels effective against child labour? CEPR Discussion Paper 6259.Google Scholar
  4. Basu A. K., Chau N. H., Grote U. (2006) Guaranteed manufactured without child labor: the economics of consumer boycotts, social labeling and trade sanctions. Review of Development Economics 10(3): 466–491CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Basu K. (1999) Child labor: Cause, consequence, and cure, with remarks on international labor standards. Journal of Economic Literature 37(3): 1083–1117Google Scholar
  6. Basu K. (2005) Child labor and the law: Notes on possible pathologies. Economics Letters 87(2): 169–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Basu, K., Horn, H., Romàn L., & Shapiro, J. (Eds.). (2003). International labor standards: History, theory, and policy options. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  8. Basu K., Van Hoang P. (1998) The economics of child labor. American Economic Review 88(3): 412–427Google Scholar
  9. Basu, K., & Zarghamee, H. (2008). Is product boycott a good idea for controlling child labor? A theoretical investigation. Forthcoming, Journal of Development Economics.Google Scholar
  10. Bell C., Gersbach H. (2009) Child labor and the education of a society. Macroeconomic Dynamics 13(2): 220–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brown D., Deardorff A. V., Stern R. M. (1996) International labor standards and trade: A theoretical analysis. In: Bhagwati J. N., Hudec R. E. (eds) Harmonization and fair trade: Prerequisites for free trade?. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  12. Brown D., Deardorff A. V., Stern R. M. (2003) Child labor: Theory, evidence, and policy. In: Basu K., Horn H., Roman L., Shapiro J. (eds) International labour standards: History, theory, and policy options. Blackwell Publishing, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  13. Davies R. B. (2005) Abstinence from child labor and profit seeking. Journal of Development Economics 76(1): 251–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dessy S., Knowles J. (2008) Why is child labor illegal?. European Economic Review 52(7): 1275–1311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Doepke, M., & Krueger, D. (2006). Origins and consequences of child labor restrictions: A macroeconomic perspective. NBER Working Paper No. 12665.Google Scholar
  16. Doepke, M., & Tertilt, M. (2009). Women’s liberation: What’s in it for men? Forthcoming, Quarterly Journal of Economics.Google Scholar
  17. Doepke M., Zilibotti F. (2005) The macroeconomics of child labor regulation. American Economic Review 95(5): 1492–1524CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Edmonds E. V. (2008) Child labor. In: Schultz T. P., Strauss J. (eds) Chapter 11 of handbook of development economics, Volume 4. North Holland, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  19. Edmonds E. V., Pavcnik N. (2005) Child labor in the global economy. Journal of Economic Perspectives 18(1): 199–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Edmonds E. V., Pavcnik N. (2005) The effect of trade liberalization on child labor. Journal of International Economics 65(2): 401–419CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Edmonds E. V., Pavcnik N. (2006) International trade and child labor: Cross-country evidence. Journal of International Economics 68(1): 115–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Galor O., Moav O. (2006) Das human-kapital: A theory of the demise of the class structure. Review of Economic Studies 73(1): 85–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Galor O., Weil D. N. (1996) The gender gap, fertility, and growth. American Economic Review 86(3): 374–387Google Scholar
  24. Goldin C., Sokoloff K. (1982) Women, children, and industrialization in the early republic: Evidence from the manufacturing censuses. Journal of Economic History 42(4): 741–774CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Goldin C., Sokoloff K. (1984) The relative productivity hypothesis of industrialization: The American case, 1820 to 1850. Quarterly Journal of Economics 99(3): 461–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Harrison, A. E., & Scorse, J. (2009). Multinationals and anti-sweatshop activism. Forthcoming, American Economic Review.Google Scholar
  27. Jafarey S., Lahiri S. (2002) Will trade sanctions reduce child labor? The role of credit markets. Journal of Development Economics 68(1): 137–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Krueger, A. B. (1996). Observations on international labor standards and trade. NBER Working Paper 5632.Google Scholar
  29. Krueger D., Donahue J. T. (2005) On the distributional consequences of child labor legislation. International Economic Review 46(3): 785–815CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lleras-Muney A. (2002) Were compulsory attendance and child labor laws effective? An analysis from 1915 to 1939. Journal of Law and Economics 45(2): 401–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Margo R. A., Finegan T. A. (1996) Compulsory schooling legislation and school attendance in turn-of-the-century America: A ‘natural experiment’ approach. Economics Letters 53(1): 103–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nardinelli C. (1990) Child labor and the industrial revolution. Indiana University Press, BloomingtonGoogle Scholar
  33. Rendall, M. (2009). Brain versus brawn: The realization of women’s comparative advantage. Unpublished Manuscript, University of Zurich.Google Scholar
  34. Rodrik D. (1996) Labor standards in international trade: Do they matter and what do we do about them?. In: Lawrence R., Rodrik D., Whalley J. (eds) Emerging agenda for international trade: High stakes for developing countries. Overseas Development Council, Washington DCGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  2. 2.Institut für Empirische WirtschaftsforschungUniversity of ZurichZürichSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations