Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 103–130 | Cite as

Effects of parental absence on child labor and school attendance in the Philippines

  • Claus C. Pörtner


This paper uses longitudinal data from the Philippines to analyze determinants of children’s time allocation. The estimation method takes into account both the simultaneity of time use decisions, by allowing for correlation of residuals across time uses, and unobservable family heterogeneity, through the inclusion of household fixed effects. Importantly, this improved estimation method leads to different results than when applying the methods previously used in the literature. Girls suffer significantly from the absence of their mother with a reduction in time spent in school that is equivalent to dropping out completely. This effect is substantially larger when controlling for household unobservables than when not. Boys increase time spent working on market related activities in response to an absent father, although this time appears to come out of leisure rather than school or doing household chores. Land ownership substantially increase the time boys spend on school activities, whereas renting land reduces the time girls spend on school. Finally, there does not appear to be a substantial trade-off between time spent on school and work, either in the market or at home.


Schooling Child labor Philippines Household heterogeneity Joint estimation 

JEL Classification

I2 J16 J22 O15 



I would like to thank Robert E. Evenson for access to the data set and for his answers to numerous questions. I would also like to thank three anonymous referees, Mark Pitt, John Strauss, and Finn Tarp for their helpful comments and suggestions. Partial support for this research came from a Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development research infrastructure grant, 5R24HD042828, to the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology at the University of Washington. This paper is a substantially revised version of Chapter 4 in my PhD thesis and was previously circulated under the title “Children’s Time Allocation in the Laguna Province, the Philippines.”


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics, Albers School of Business and EconomicsSeattle UniversitySeattleUSA
  2. 2.Center for Studies in Demography and EcologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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