Papers, Please! The Effect of Birth Registration on Child Labor and Education in Early 20th Century USA
University of Sussex - Department of Economics
February 15, 2012
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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 52
Keywords: Birth registration, Child Labor, Compulsory Schooling, Legal Enforcement, Institutions, Economic History
JEL Classification: K0, N32, O10
Date posted: June 29, 2011 ; Last revised: May 12, 2014