In the Same Boat, but not Equals: The Heterogeneous Effects of Parental Income on Child Labour
This paper examines the impact of parental income on child labour. The empirical literature has found conflicting results regarding whether poverty leads parents to send their children to work. Most of this literature, however, treats child labourers as a single homogeneous group, ignoring differences among working children in work intensity, hazard exposure, and type of employer. This paper argues that accounting for the heterogeneity in child’s working conditions may explain the conflicting results in the literature. Specifically, the existence of this heterogeneity may reflect heterogeneity in parents’ perceptions about the returns to child’s work, and hence in parental reasons to send their children to work. To test this hypothesis, I estimate the effects of parental income on child labour for various working conditions, using data from the 2010 Egypt National Child Labour Survey. This dataset provides rich information on the working conditions of child labourers. The findings show that the effect of parental income on child labour is minimal among children who work in non-hazardous jobs, jobs that are not highly physical, or in family businesses. In contrast, higher parental income does decrease the likelihood of child labour in market work, jobs that are physical and hazardous jobs.