Revisiting the Link between Poverty and Child Labor: The Ghanaian Experience

CLS Working Paper No. 01-03

30 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2002

See all articles by Niels-Hugo Blunch

Niels-Hugo Blunch

Washington and Lee University; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Dorte Verner

World Bank - Latin America and Caribbean Region

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2001


The link between poverty and child labor has traditionally been regarded a well established fact. Recent research, however, has questioned the validity of this link, claiming that poverty is not a main determinant of child labor. Starting from a premise that child labor is not necessarily harmful, we analyze the determinants of harmful child labor, viewed as child labor that directly conflicts with the human capital accumulation of the child in an attempt to identify the most vulnerable groups, thus possibly enabling appropriate actions to be taken by policy makers. We reinstate the positive relationship between poverty and child labor, a conjecture that has been questioned by recent literature. Further, we find evidence of a gender gap in child labor linked to poverty, since girls as a group as well as across urban, rural and poverty sub-samples consistently are found to be more likely to engage in harmful child labor than boys. The established gender gap need not necessarily imply discrimination but rather reflect cultural norms. A further exploration of this issue seems to be a potentially fruitful avenue for further research. The last main finding is that there exist structural differences in the processes underlying harmful child labor in Ghana across gender, across rural/urban location as well as across poverty quintiles of households.

Keywords: Africa, Ghana, child labor, human capital accumulation, poverty

JEL Classification: D1, I21, J13, J24, O15

Suggested Citation

Blunch, Niels-Hugo and Verner, Dorte, Revisiting the Link between Poverty and Child Labor: The Ghanaian Experience (April 2001). CLS Working Paper No. 01-03, Available at SSRN: or

Niels-Hugo Blunch (Contact Author)

Washington and Lee University ( email )

Department of Economics
Lexington, VA 24450
United States


IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Dorte Verner

World Bank - Latin America and Caribbean Region ( email )

1818 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics