Journal of Economic Growth

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 1–31 | Cite as

Do international labor standards contribute to the persistence of the child-labor problem?

  • Matthias Doepke
  • Fabrizio Zilibotti


In recent years, a number of governments and consumer groups in rich countries have tried to discourage the use of child-labor in poor countries through measures such as product boycotts and the imposition of international labor standards. The purported objective of such measures is to reduce the incidence of child-labor in developing countries and thereby improve children’s welfare. In this paper, we examine the effects of such policies from a political-economy perspective. We show that these types of international action on child-labor tend to lower domestic political support within developing countries for banning child-labor. Hence, international labor standards and product boycotts may delay the ultimate eradication of child-labor.


Child labor Political economy International labor standards Trade sanctions 

JEL Classification

J20 J88 O10 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  2. 2.Institut für Empirische WirtschaftsforschungUniversity of ZurichZürichSwitzerland

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