Follow us
Publications Commentary Research People Events News Resources and Videos About IFS
Home Publications The impact of child work on cognitive development: results from four low to middle income countries

The impact of child work on cognitive development: results from four low to middle income countries

Michael P Keane, Sonya Krutikova and Timothy Neal
IFS Working Paper W20/36

We study the impact of child work on cognitive development in four Low- and Middle-Income Countries. We advance the literature by using cognitive test scores collected regardless of school attendance. We also address a key gap in the literature by controlling for children’s complete time allocation budget. This allows us to estimate effects of different types of work, like chores and market/farm work, relative to specific alternative time-uses, like school or study or play/leisure. Our results show child work is more detrimental to child development to the extent that it crowds out school/study time rather than leisure. We also show the adverse effect of time spent on domestic chores is similar to time spent on market and farm work, provided they both crowd out school/study time. Thus, policies to enhance child development should target a shift from all forms of work toward educational activities.

More on this topic

External publication
The Social Mobility Commission investigated the drivers of socio-economic differences in post-16 course choices and their likely social mobility consequences.
Newspaper article
'It is an abiding failure of our system of governance that, with an average tenure of less than two years, secretaries of state barely have time to understand the problems, let alone put in place lasting and effective reform.' Paul Johnson on education reform in The Times.
Press release
Equal access to higher education for students from all socio-economic and ethnic groups is a key aim of UK education policy. New research at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), commissioned by the Department for Education, looks at the financial benefit that students from different ...
Report
We investigate differences in the returns to undergraduate degrees by socio-economic background and ethnicity using the Department for Education’s Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) data set.
Briefing note
Child at school with mask on