Attending school: two 'Rs' and child work in rural Ethiopia

A Admassie, Arjun Bedi

Research output: Working paperAcademic

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Rural Ethiopia has amongst the highest rates of children’s labor force activity
in the world. Children start assuming household and farm responsibilities as early as
four years of age and on average contribute 29-30 hours of labor per week. This paper
examines the consequences of working on the formal human capital development of
children. In particular, we investigate whether the number of hours worked by
children has an effect on school attendance and on their reading and writing ability
(RWA). An intermediate step in our analysis is identification of the factors that
determine the allocation of children’s time to school and work. A noteworthy aspect
here is our assessment of the link between the spread of modern agricultural
technologies and child work.
In our studya
we detect a non-linear relationship between hours of work and
school attendance/RWA of children. Initially there is a positive link between working
and schooling/RWA. However, at between 16-22 hours of weekly work the ability of
a child to read and write begins to suffer while school attendance is not affected.
Beyond this threshold RWA and school attendance suffer. In terms of determinants
we find that agricultural modernization has a mixed effect. While the availability of
agricultural machinery reduces the demand for child labor other technologies such as
the spread of improved seeds, at least in the short run, increase the burden of work.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationDen Haag
PublisherInternational Institute of Social Studies (ISS)
Number of pages50
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003

Publication series

SeriesISS working papers. General series

Bibliographical note

JEL Classification Codes: O150, J220


  • ISS Working Paper-General Series


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