Do International Labor Standards Contribute to the Persistence of the Child Labor Problem?

43 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2009

See all articles by Matthias Doepke

Matthias Doepke

Northwestern University - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Fabrizio Zilibotti

University of Zurich; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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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

Suggested Citation

Doepke, Matthias and Zilibotti, Fabrizio, Do International Labor Standards Contribute to the Persistence of the Child Labor Problem?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 4214. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1423330

Matthias Doepke (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Department of Economics ( email )

2003 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Fabrizio Zilibotti

University of Zurich ( email )

Rämistrasse 71
Zürich, CH-8006
Switzerland

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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