Is poverty the main cause of child work in urban Brazil?

Produced by: 
Instituto de Pesquisa Económica Aplicada (IPEA)
Available from: 
January 2015
Paper author(s): 
Ricardo Paes de Barros
Rosane Mendonça
Tatiana Velazco
Poverty - Inequality - Aid Effectiveness

In 1990 there were in Brazil around 16 million children aged 10 to 14 years. Close to million of them were either working or searching for a labor market activity, resulting in a labor force participation rate only slightly lower than 20%. In urban Brazil the situation was better but still of enormous concern. Out of the 12 million minors aged 10 to 14 living in urban Brazil, 1.4 million were part of the economically active population. As a result, in urban, Brazil, the labor force participation rate of minors in this age group was close to 12% in 1990. Labor force participation rates of this magnitude, for this age group, are a structural phenomenon in Brazil. For instance, a comparison of the 1960 and 1980 demographic censuses conducted by Henriques, Silva, Singh and Wulf (1989) indicates only a modest decline (two percentage points) in the labor force participation of minors 10 to 14 years old over these two decades. In consonance with the importance of the theme, a large literature has developed around the main determinants of high labor force participation rate of minors in Brazil. There exists an astonishing consensus in the literature. Essentially, all studies have reached the conclusion that poverty is the main cause of child work in Brazil.


Research section: 
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