SOCIAL INTERACTIONS, SPATIAL DEPENDENCE, AND CHILDREN'S ACTIVITIES: EVIDENCE FROM INDIA

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					          SOCIAL INTERACTIONS, SPATIAL
           DEPENDENCE, AND CHILDREN’S
         ACTIVITIES: EVIDENCE FROM INDIA
                                  Rubiana Chamarbagwala
                           Indiana University – Bloomington, USA


ABSTRACT

After controlling for a wide range of determinants of children’s participation in work, school, and
idleness, we examine whether or not there exists spatial dependence in children’s activities in
neighboring Indian districts. We find that correlation among neighboring districts’ unobservables
play a significant role in determining the proportion of children who attend school, work, and are
idle in a district. We attribute a large part of spatially correlated unobservables to common social
attitudes, beliefs, and norms with respect to children’s activities in neighboring districts. This
suggests implementing policies that not only target the quality and quantity of education, but also
change social attitudes in favor of education and against idleness and child labor.

JEL Classifications: I20, J24
Keywords: Child Labor, Education, Social Influence, Spatial Dependence, India
Corresponding Author’s E-mail Address: rchamarb@indiana.edu

INTRODUCTION

Although the right to free basic education is enshrined in the declaration of human rights
(United Nations 1948) and features as a UN Millennium goal, according to the
1991census of India, more than 94 million Indian children are not attending school.i The
decision of households - whether voluntary or involuntary - not to send their children to
school, thereby not investing in human capital for the next generation, has been examined
by many authors. In many cases economic factors are found to play an important role.
Basu & Van (1998), Basu (2002), Ranjan (1999), for example, observe that poverty and
credit constraints prevent households from undertaking potentially profitable investment
in human capital as either schooling expenses are too high or child labor is necessary for
survival of the household. Other authors look at the local labor market (Duryea &
Arends-Kuenning 2003, Krueger 2002), trade (Edmonds & Pavcnik 2004,Cigno et al.
2002), or economic growth (Barros et al. 1994, Neri & Thomas 2001, Swaminathan
1998). While constraints may prevent children from going to school, a low return to
human capital due to relatively low wages for educated workers (Foster & Rosenzweig
1996, 2004, Kochar 2004) or a high probability of unemployment (Da Silva Leme &
Wajnman 2000) may discourage children from going to school. Such children will not
necessarily enter the labor market immediately but remain idle until they are old enough
to work.
          This paper examines the role of social interactions in determining children’s
activities in India. Social interactions can play a crucial part even in economic decision
                                                          
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: After controlling for a wide range of determinants of children's participation in work, school, and idleness, we examine whether or not there exists spatial dependence in children's activities in neighboring Indian districts. We find that correlation among neighboring districts' unobservables play a significant role in determining the proportion of children who attend school, work, and are idle in a district. We attribute a large part of spatially correlated unobservables to common social attitudes, beliefs, and norms with respect to children's activities in neighboring districts. This suggests implementing policies that not only target the quality and quantity of education, but also change social attitudes in favor of education and against idleness and child labor. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]
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