IZA DP No. 1966: Child Labor, Urban Proximity and Household Composition
published in: Journal of Development Economics, 2006, 79 (2), 374-397
Using detailed survey data from Nepal, this paper examines the determinants of child labor with a special emphasis on urban proximity. We find that children residing in or near urban centers attend school more and work less in total but are more likely to be involved in wage work or in a small business. The larger the urban center, the stronger the effect is. Urban proximity is found to reduce the workload of children and improve school attendance up to 3 hours of travel time from the city. In areas of commercialized agriculture located 3 to 7 hours from the city, children do more farm work. Urban proximity effects are accounted for by a combination of local labor supply and demand conditions, most notably the local importance of agriculture, the education level of the parents, and the local wage rate. Child servants, which represent a small proportion of all children, work much harder than other children and appear particularly at risk.