Child Labor: The Role of Income Variability and Access to Credit Across Countries

Rajeev Dehejia, Roberta Gatti

NBER Working Paper No. 9018
Issued in June 2002
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

This paper examines the relationship between child labor and access to credit at a cross-country level. Even though this link is theoretically central to child labor, so far there has been little work done to assess its importance empirically. We measure child labor as a country aggregate, and credit constraints are proxied by the extent of financial development. These two variables display a strong negative relationship, which we show is robust to selection on observables (by controlling for a wide range of variables such as GDP per capita, urbanization, initial child labor, schooling, fertility, legal institutions, inequality, and openness, and by allowing for a nonparametric functional form), and to selection on unobservables (by allowing for fixed effects). We find that the magnitude of the association between our proxy of access to credit and child labor is large in the sub-sample of poor countries. Moreover, in the absence of developed financial markets, households appear to resort substantially to child labor in order to cope with income variability. This evidence suggests that policies aimed at widening households' access to credit could be effective in reducing the extent of child labor.

download in pdf format
   (324 K)

email paper

A non-technical summary of this paper is available in the December 2002 NBER Digest.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Digest by email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9018

Published: Dehejia, Rajeev H. and Roberta Gatti. "Child Labor: The Role Of Financial Development And Income Variability Across Countries," Economic Development and Cultural Change, 2005, v53(4,Jul), 913-932.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Edmonds w12926 Child Labor
Edmonds w10134 Does Child Labor Decline with Improving Economic Status?
Edmonds and Schady w15345 Poverty Alleviation and Child Labor
Beegle, Dehejia, and Gatti w10088 Child Labor, Crop Shocks, and Credit Constraints
Edmonds and Pavcnik w10317 International Trade and Child Labor: Cross-Country Evidence
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us