The complex effects of public policy on child labour
Child labour is a complex phenomenon. Many policy instruments can be used to address child labour or can affect child labour, even if implemented to achieve other objectives. Predicting the impact of these policy instruments on child labour ex-ante is far from straightforward. This paper discusses the evidence generated by rigorous empirical evaluations to draw lessons on the complex effects of public policy on child labour.
The authors find that while transfer programs generally tend to reduce child labour, other policies risk increasing child labour, in particular if they affect households’ productive structure.
- policies that aim to address child labour by reducing the vulnerability of the household by and large produce the desired effect (albeit with a variability that deserves further scrutiny)
- transfers (conditional or not, in cash or in kind) do not increase child labour and tend to reduce it in most cases
- programmes that help the household to cope with exposure to risk, for example health insurance, do reduce household reliance on child labour.
- more can be done in this area to make programs more effective to red uce child labour, but reducing household vulnerability appears to be a very important strategy