NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Donald Parsons

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Working Papers

July 1981Economic Well-Being and Child Labor: The Inter action of Family and Industry
with Claudia D. Goldin: w0707
How did industrialization in the nineteenth century affect the well-being of children among American working class families? Two revealing surveys from 1890 and 1907 are used to examine the implications of child labor on schooling decisions and on possible offsetting intrafamily transfers, in the form of current "retained" earnings or future asset transfers. Both issues are analyzed within the context of a formal model of family labor supply, in which returns to schooling accrue after the youth has left the household and thus the interests of the parents and the child need not coincide. Parents working in the industries examined did not, it appears, compensate their children for the reduced future earnings implied by child labor, in either the current or in future time periods. But, in add...

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