Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Book
Title Child labour, education and health: a review of the literature
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2008
Publisher International Labour Organization
City Geneva
Country/State Switzerland
URL http://www.crin.org/docs/CL_Education_Health_Review_En[1].pdf
This paper reviews the rapidly-expanding literature on the relationships between child labour, education and health. With the renewed interest in child labour as an economic and social problem during the 1990s, researchers have attempted to assess its linkages to the core elements of human capital, hoping to solve continuing riddles in development policy and improve the quality of life for the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged inhabitants.

In many respects, however, the central questions are wrongly posed. First, “education” and “health”, no less than “child labour”, are not unitary phenomena. There are different levels of education and different cognitive skills to be acquired; there are many aspects of health that need not correlate with one another; and there are many specific types of child labour with diverse effects. Second, much depends on context, and the conditions in which children and their families
find themselves vary enormously around the world. The economic causes of child labour are not everywhere the same, nor are the cultural factors governing the role of children. Educational and health systems, and the expectations ordinary people have of them, also vary. Finally, and perhaps most important of all, the work of children, their educational activities and their health conditions are not determined separately; they are the joint product of the entire set of mutually determining influences that constitute a place and time. In technical terms, none of them are exogenous. As we will see, this results in large technical difficulties in measurement and analysis, and in the end it may be that any unidirectional answer is illusory.

Notwithstanding these limitations, however, there is now much we can say about the channels by which child labour is linked to human capital outcomes. The two sections that follow review research on education and health respectively. Due to the size of the literature, I have generally restricted this review to works published during the past ten years in English.

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