Child Labour and Health

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Understanding Children’s Work Project Working Paper Series, January 2002

1.

Child labour and health:
evidence and research issues

O. O’Donnell
E. Van Doorslaer
F.C. Rosati

January 2002

Child labour and health:
evidence and research issues
Owen O’Donnell∗
F. C. Rosati**
Eddy van Doorslaer***
Working Paper
January 2002
Understanding Children’s Work (UCW) Project
University of Rome “Tor Vergata”
Faculty of Economics
Via Columbia 2, 00133 Rome
Tel: +39 06.7259.5618
Fax: +39 06.2020.687
Email: info@ucw-project.org

As part of broader efforts toward durable solutions to child labor, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Bank initiated the interagency Understanding Children’s Work (UCW) project in December 2000. The project is guided by the Oslo Agenda for Action, which laid out the priorities for the international community in the fight against child labor. Through a variety of data collection, research, and assessment activities, the UCW project is broadly directed toward improving understanding of child labor, its causes and effects, how it can be measured, and effective policies for addressing it. For further information, see the project website at www.ucw-project.org. This paper is part of the research carried out within UCW (Understanding Children's Work), a joint ILO, World Bank and UNICEF project. The views expressed here are those of the authors' and should not be attributed to the ILO, the World Bank, UNICEF or any of these agencies’ member countries.


Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia, 156 Egnatia Street, Thessaloniki, 54006, Greece. Tel. 30 31 891478. Fax 30 31 891377. email: ood@uom.gr.

** UCW project and University of Rome “Tor Vergata”
*** Erasmus University

Child labour and health:
evidence and research issues
Working Paper
January 2002

ABSTRACT
The ILO definition of the worst forms of child labour includes work that is likely to jeopardise health and safety. Effective targeting of those child work activities most damaging to health requires both conceptual understanding and empirical evidence of the interactions between child labour and health. The aim of the paper is to review the current state of such knowledge, which is central to the design of policies that, whilst protecting children from work activities most damaging to their health, do not jeopardise the subsistence livelihood of their families. The relationships between child labour and health are complex. They can be direct and indirect, static and dynamic, positive and negative, causal and spurious. The diversity of potential relationships makes their empirical disentanglement a difficult exercise. A conceptual framework of analysis is required and important issues of measurement and of estimation must be given careful consideration.

Child labour and health:
evidence and research issues
Working Paper
January 2002

1. 

CONTENTS
Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 1 

2. 

Child labour and child health .......................................................................................... 3  2.1  Negative effects .............................................................................................................. 3 

2.2 Positive effects................................................................................................................. 6  3. 
Long-run health consequences of child labour ............................................................... 7  3.1  Direct effects ................................................................................................................... 7  3.2  An indirect effect through education .............................................................................. 8  3.3  Evidence on long-run health...
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