work in agriculture is the most commonly practised form of child labour, it is however fair to say that it is unlikely to be more damaging than some of the work undertaken by children in large urban centres.
It must be kept in mind, furthermore, that we have also uncovered evidence of a positive effect of paid work. As we control for total household consumption, this effect appears to operate through a reallocation of household resources in favour of working children. That is indeed the theoretical prediction of Pitt et al. (1990). If the reallocation in favour of working children is at the expense of others, however, this may still be bad for other children in the family. There is empirical support for this hypothesis. Using data on calorie intakes from rural Indonesia, Ralston (1997) found the intra-household calorie allocation to be positively related to children's labour contributions, and morbidity to be negatively related to calorie intake. On the other hand, child work raises household resources. If household income increases more than the share of non-working children decreases, the net effect on non-working children could be positive. The available evidence suggests that it is not. A study of rural Guatemala, Immink and Payongayong (1999), does in fact find that, while participation of school-age children in farm production does not appear to reduce their own growth and development, its effect on the growth of younger siblings is negative.
The international community wants better evidence on the health consequences of different types of child work in order to identify hazardous work, make effective its prohibition, and offer rehabilitation to children withdrawn from such activities (ILO 2002 : 12). Our finding of significantly negative health effects of child work strengthens the case for policies that reduce children's work engagement. Our finding that this is true also of the bulk of child economic activity, agricultural work, does not make the task politically any easier.
The estimation of the contemporaneous relationship between health and child labour is based on the following model,(A1)where is hijt health/nutrition status, proxied by weight-for-age z-score, of child i belonging to community j at time t. lijt is a binary indicator of work status, Xijt and Zjt are vectors of health/nutrition determinants defined at the individual/household and commune levels respectively. As we control for height, the other regressors inform of relationships with thinness. The individual-specific effects (μi) represent unobservable heterogeneity in health endowments and preferences. The community effects (λj) capture unmeasured health determinants that vary across location but not time, such as climate, infrastructure,
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Publication information: Book title: The Economics of Child Labour. Contributors: Alessandro Cigno - Author, Furio C. Rosati - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 2005. Page number: 183.
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