Child labor: The role of income variablity and access to credit in a cross section of countries

Rajeev Dehejia and Roberta Gatti
Economic Development and Cultural Change, Vol. 53, Number 4 (July 2005), pp. 913-932.

Even though access to credit is central to child labor theoretically, little work has been done to assess its importance empirically. Dehejia and Gatti examine the link between access to credit and child labor at a cross-country level. The authors measure child labor as a country aggregate, and proxy credit constraints by the level of financial market development. These two variables display a strong negative (unconditional) relationship. The authors show that even after they control for a wide range of variables-including GDP per capita, urbanization, initial child labor, schooling, fertility, legal institutions, inequality, and openness-this relationship remains strong and statistically significant. Moreover, they find that, in the absence of developed financial markets, households resort to child labor to cope with income variability.

This evidence suggests that policies aimed at increasing households'access to credit could be effective in reducing child labor.

Wagner Faculty