What Led to the Decline of Child Labour in the European Periphery? A Cointegration Approach with Long Historical Data

Pedro V. Goulart*, Nuno Sobreira, Gianluca Ferrittu, Arjun S. Bedi

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

The “traditional view” on the historical decline of child labour has emphasised the role of the approval of effective child labour (minimum working age) laws. Since then, the importance of alternative key driving factors such as schooling, demography, household income or technology has been highlighted. While historically leading countries such as England and industrial labour have been studied, peripheral Europe and a full participation rate also including agriculture and services have received limited research attention. The contribution of this paper is to provide a first empirical explanation for the child labour decline observed in a European peripheral country like Portugal using long historical yearly data. For doing so, we use long series of Portugal’s child labour participation rate and several candidate explanatory factors. We implement cointegration techniques to relate child labour with its main drivers. We find that not only factors related to the “traditional view” were important for the Portuguese case. In fact, a mixture of legislation, schooling, demography, income, and technological factors seem to have contributed to the sustainable fall of Portugal’s child labour. Hence, explanations for observed child labour decline seem to differ by country and context, introducing a more nuanced view of the existing literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-801
Number of pages37
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Volume172
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2024

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