Explaining variation in child labor statistics

Andrew Dillon*, Elena Bardasi, Kathleen Beegle, Pieter Serneels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Child labor statistics are critical for assessing the extent and nature of child labor activities in developing countries. In practice, widespread variation exists in how child labor is measured. Questionnaire modules vary across countries and within countries over time along several dimensions, including respondent type and the structure of the questionnaire. Little is known about the effect of these differences on child labor statistics. This paper presents the results from a randomized survey experiment in Tanzania focusing on two survey design choices: different questionnaire design to classify children work and proxy response versus self-reporting. Use of a short module compared with a more detailed questionnaire has a statistically significant effect, especially on child labor force participation rates, and, to a lesser extent, on working hours. Proxy reports do not differ significantly from a child's self-report. Further analysis demonstrates that survey design choices affect the coefficient estimates of some determinants of child labor in a child labor supply equation. The results suggest that low-cost changes to questionnaire design will potentially clarify the concept of work for respondents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-147
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Development Economics
Volume98
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2012

Keywords

  • Child labor
  • Survey design
  • Tanzania

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Economics and Econometrics

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