Child labor is work that is prohibited by law or international regulations because someone is too young to work or because it is harmful or otherwise unsuitable for them. Countries often regulate it to protect children's health—but what is the best way to regulate it?
Cash transfers can reduce child labor if structured well and if they account for the reasons children workFurio C. Rosati, September 2016Cash transfers are a popular and successful means of tackling household vulnerability and promoting human capital investment. They can also reduce child labor, especially when it is a response to household vulnerability. But if not properly designed, cash transfers that promote children’s education can increase their economic activities in order to pay the additional costs of schooling. The efficacy of cash transfers may also be reduced if the transfers enable investment in productive assets that boost the returns to child labor. The impact of cash transfers must thus be assessed as part of the entire social protection system.MoreLess
Emigration from developing countries can change local labor market conditions and children’s work timeMariapia Mendola, August 2016International labor mobility has resulted in sweeping socio-economic changes in many developing countries. When a family member migrates for work and sends back remittances, household income may rise, and with it investment in children’s schooling. Emigration flows may also alter local labor market conditions and wage rates, which can in turn affect children’s labor supply. Whether there is more or less child labor as a result of migration may depend on the skill composition of the migrants and on how family members respond to wage changes.MoreLess
Families that stay behind when a member migrates do not clearly benefitSylvie Démurger, April 2015About a billion people worldwide live and work outside their country of birth or outside their region of birth within their own country. Labor migration is conventionally viewed as economically benefiting the family members who are left behind through remittances. However, splitting up families in this way may also have multiple adverse effects on education, health, labor supply response, and social status for family members who do not migrate. Identifying the causal impact of migration on those who are left behind remains a challenging empirical question with inconclusive evidence.MoreLess
The global fight against child labor might be better served by focusing less on existing laws and more on implementation and enforcementEric V. Edmonds, July 2014Regulation of the minimum age of employment is the dominant tool used to combat child labor globally. If enforced, these regulations can change the types of work in which children participate, but minimum age regulations are not a useful tool to promote education. Despite their nearly universal adoption, recent research for 59 developing countries finds little evidence that these regulations influence child time allocation in a meaningful way. Going forward, coordinating compulsory schooling laws and minimum age of employment regulations may help maximize the joint influence of these regulations on child time allocation, but these regulations should not be the focus of the global fight against child labor.MoreLess