The Dark Side of Batteries: Education and Cobalt Mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
67 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2020 Last revised: 4 Apr 2023
Date Written: April 16, 2021
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: Suggested Citation