DP5675 Were American Parents Really Selfish? Child Labour in the 19th Century

Author(s): Venkataraman Bhaskar, Bishnupriya Gupta
Publication Date: May 2006
Keyword(s): child labour, parental altruism
JEL(s): D13, J13, N31
Programme Areas: Labour Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=5675

Using the US Commissioner of Labor Survey of 1890, we examine household decisions and parental altruism vis-a-vis their children. Contrary to Parsons and Goldin (1989), we find that parental location choices were dictated by constraints rather than the desire to exploit child labour opportunities. We also find signfiicant income effects on child labour supply, indicating that rising affluence played an important part in the secular decline of child labour. We also find that the effects of childrens' income on their own consumption are weak, once child labour is controlled for.