The Dark Side of Batteries: Education and Cobalt Mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

62 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2020 Last revised: 7 May 2021

Date Written: April 16, 2021

Abstract

This paper provides evidence that the adoption of modern lithium-ion batteries led to a decline in child education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In contrast with any other mining activities, I find that the rapid increase in the worldwide demand for cobalt led to a reduction in the completed years of schooling of Congolese individuals who, at the time of the boom, were between 6 and 14 years old and lived in cobalt-rich areas. I obtain these results by exploiting exogenous geographic variation of cobalt deposits before the boom of modern electric batteries and using individual education attainment data. The estimates are robust to spatial spillover effects and selective migration.

Keywords: Lithium-ion Batteries, Cobalt Mining, Child Labour

JEL Classification: I25, J13, O13

Suggested Citation

Malpede, Maurizio, The Dark Side of Batteries: Education and Cobalt Mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (April 16, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3680730 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3680730

Maurizio Malpede (Contact Author)

GREEN, Bocconi University ( email )

Via Sarfatti, 25
Milan, MI 20136
Italy

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