Revisiting the Link between Poverty and Child Labor: The Ghanaian Experience
21 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016
Date Written: November 30, 1999
In Ghana children from poor households are far more likely to engage in child labor activities than are children from nonpoor households. Girls generally work more than boys, and rural children work more than urban children.
The link between poverty and child labor has traditionally been regarded as well established. But recent research has questioned the validity of this link, claiming that poverty is not a main determinant of child labor. Starting from the premise that child labor is not necessarily harmful, Blunch and Verner analyze the determinants of harmful child labor, viewed as child labor that directly conflicts with children's accumulation of human capital, in an effort to identify the most vulnerable groups. Identifying these groups might enable policymakers to take appropriate action.
The authors reinstate the positive relationship between poverty and child labor.
Moreover, they find evidence of a gender gap in child labor linked to poverty. Girls as a group (as well as across urban, rural, and poverty subsamples) are consistently found to be more likely to engage in harmful child labor than boys. This gender gap may reflect cultural norms (an issue that calls for further research).
The incidence of child labor increases with age, especially for girls. In Ghana there are structural differences - across gender, between rural and urban locations, and across poverty quintiles of households - in the processes underlying child labor.
This paper - a joint product of Human Development 3, Africa Technical Families, and the Economic Policy Sector Unit, Latin America and the Caribbean Region - is part of a larger effort in the Bank to investigate and understand the processes underlying child labor.
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