Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

CLS Working Papers,
University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Centre for Labour Market and Social Research

No 01-3: Revisiting the Link Between Poverty and Child Labor: The Ghanaian Experience

Niels-Hugo Blunch and Dorthe Verner
Additional contact information
Niels-Hugo Blunch: Centre for Labour Market and Social Research, Aarhus School of Business, Postal: The Aarhus School of Business, Prismet, Silkeborgvej 2, DK 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
Dorthe Verner: Centre for Labour Market and Social Research, Aarhus School of Business, Postal: The Aarhus School of Business, Prismet, Silkeborgvej 2, DK 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark

Abstract: The link between poverty and child labor has traditionally been regarded a well established fact. Recent research, however, has questioned the validity of this link, claiming that poverty is not a main determinant of child labor. Starting from a premise that child labor is necessarily harmful, we analyze the determinants of harmful child labor, viewed as child labor that directly conflicts with the human capital accumulation of the child in an attempt to identify the most vulnerable groups, thus possibly enabling appropriate actions to be taken by policy makers. We reinstate the positive relationship between poverty and child labor, a conjecture that has been questioned by recent litterature. Further, we find evidence of a gender gap in child labor linked to poverty, since girls as a group as well as across urban, rural and poverty sub-samples consistently are found to be more likely to engage in harmful child labor than boys. The established gender gap need not necessarily imply discrimination but rather reflect cultural norms. A further exploration of this issue seems to be a potentially fruitful avenue for further research. The last main finding is that there exist structural differences in the processes underlying harmful child labor in Ghana across gender, across rural/urban location as well as across poverty quintiles of households

Keywords: Africa; Ghana; Child labor; Human capital accumulation; Poverty

JEL-codes: I21; J13; J24; O15

21 pages, April 1, 2001

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