The consequences of child market work on the growth of human capital

Author name: 
Armand A Sim
Daniel Suryadarma
Asep Suryahadi

Child labor is a phenomenon that has attracted a great amount of attention and research. Theoretical propositions suggest that child labor is inefficient if it adversely affects future earning ability. This paper contributes to the literature on the effects of child market work on human capital by focusing on the long-term growth in human capital, which is widely known to significantly affect earning ability. The paper also uses better measures of human capital by focusing on the output of the human capital production function: numeracy skills, cognitive skills, and pulmonary function. Using a rich longitudinal dataset on Indonesia, we find strong negative effects of child labor on the growth of both numeracy and cognitive skills in the next seven years. In addition, we find a strong and negative effect on pulmonary function as measured through lung capacity. Comparing the effects by gender and type of work, we find that female child workers suffer more adverse effects on mathematical skills growth, while male child workers experience much smaller growth in pulmonary function. We also find that child workers who work for pay outside the family bore worse effects compared to child workers who work in the family business.

Updated:  19 May 2024/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team