Child Labor and School Achievement in Latin America

Posted: 29 Feb 2008

See all articles by Victoria Gunnarsson

Victoria Gunnarsson

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Fiscal Affairs Department

Peter F. Orazem

Iowa State University and IZA; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Mario A. Sanchez

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Abstract

Child labor's effect on academic achievement is estimated using unique data on third and fourth graders in nine Latin-American countries. Cross-country variation in truancy regulations provides an exogenous shift in the ages of children normally in these grades, providing exogenous variation in the opportunity cost of children's time. Least squares estimates suggest that child labor lowers test scores, but those estimates are biased toward zero. Corrected estimates are still negative and statistically significant. Children working 1 standard deviation above the mean have average scores that are 16 percent lower on mathematics examinations and 11 percent lower on language examinations, consistent with the estimates of the adverse impact of child labor on returns to schooling.

Suggested Citation

Gunnarsson, Victoria and Orazem, Peter Francis and Sanchez, Mario A., Child Labor and School Achievement in Latin America. World Bank Economic Review, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 31-54, 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=916909

Victoria Gunnarsson (Contact Author)

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Fiscal Affairs Department ( email )

700 19th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20431
United States

Peter Francis Orazem

Iowa State University and IZA ( email )

260 Heady Hall
Ames, IA 50011
United States
515-294-8656/515-294-7740 (Phone)
515-294-0221 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Mario A. Sanchez

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) ( email )

1300 New York Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20577
United States

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