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Women’s decision making power and child labor: evidence from Pakistan

Abstract

The quality of life of a child depends on the decision of parents about the allocation choices of their child’s time between education and work. In particular, the mother of a child can play a significant role in enhancing the quality of life of her kids given that she has the right of participation in decision making in family life. This research is based on the belief that child labor is detrimental to human capital accumulation and women’s decision-making power plays an important role in economic development by enhancing human capital of the future generation. This study contributes to the literature by addressing the question: How women take part in the decision making process and how women’s decisions influence their children. Women’s decision making power is gauged by using a set of different measures from Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey 2013–2014, which inquires directly who in the household makes decisions on some key matters, such as women’s education and employment, uptake of fertility regulating methods, the number of children and purchase of household consumption items. Our study uses logistic regression technique to empirically test the relationship between women’s decision making power and child labor. The findings of study suggest that empowering women by increasing their ability to make decisions on some key issues of the family matters decreases the probability of child labor in Pakistan. Among all the measures of women’s decision making power, the participation of women in decisions of family size has a larger effect on child labor. Moreover, gender heterogeneity in the reduction of child labor also exists as women’s decision making power leaves different impacts on boys and girls. The results are statistically significant across various specifications. Hence, empowering women through the decision-making process of the family life can help to reduce child labor in the society.

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Notes

  1. ILO Convention No. 138 allows a Member State whose economy and educational facilities are insufficiently developed to initially specify a minimum age of 14 years. National laws or regulations may permit the employment or work of children aged 13 to 15 years on light work which is (a) not likely to be harmful to their health or development; and (b) not such as to prejudice their attendance at school, their participation in vocational orientation or training programmes approved by the competent authority or their capacity to benefit from the instruction received. A Member whose economy and educational facilities are insufficiently developed may substitute the ages 13 and 15 for the ages 12 and 14 for light work.

    Further the Article 3 of this convention states that: The minimum age for admission to any type of employment or work which by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out is likely to jeopardize the health, safety or morals of young persons shall not be less than 18 years.

  2. Employment information of children below 10 years old is not available in PSLM Survey 2013-14.

  3. Following ILO Convention No. 189, “domestic work” means work performed in or for a household or households and “domestic worker” means any person engaged in domestic work within an employment relationship.

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Correspondence to Muhammad Tariq Majeed.

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Appendix

Appendix

See Tables 7, 8 and 9.

Table 7 Effects of an index of women’s decision making power on child labor
Table 8 Descriptive statistics
Table 9 Correlation matrix

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Majeed, M.T., Kiran, F. Women’s decision making power and child labor: evidence from Pakistan. Qual Quant 53, 2175–2197 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11135-019-00864-y

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Keywords

  • Women’s decision making power
  • Child labor
  • Human development