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Papers, Please! The Effect of Birth Registration on Child Labor and Education in Early 20th Century USA

52 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2011 Last revised: 12 May 2014

Sonja Fagernäs

University of Sussex - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 15, 2012

Abstract

A birth certificate establishes a child's legal identity and age, but few quantitative estimates of the significance of birth registration exist. Birth registration laws were enacted by U.S. states in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Using 1910-1930 census data, this study finds that minimum working age legislation was twice as effective in reducing under-aged employment if children were born with a birth registration law, with positive implications for school attendance. Registration laws also improved the enforcement of schooling laws somewhat, but the connection is weaker. The long-term effect of registration laws was to increase educational attainment by 0.06-0.1 years.

Keywords: Birth registration, Child Labor, Compulsory Schooling, Legal Enforcement, Institutions, Economic History

JEL Classification: K0, N32, O10

Suggested Citation

Fagernäs, Sonja, Papers, Please! The Effect of Birth Registration on Child Labor and Education in Early 20th Century USA (February 15, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1874042 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1874042

Sonja Fagernäs (Contact Author)

University of Sussex - Department of Economics ( email )

Mantell Building
Falmer
Brighton, Sussex BNI 9RF
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/profiles/128581

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