Child Labor and Agricultural Production in Northern Mali

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This dissertation examines how agricultural households allocate children?s time between work and schooling activities and utilize access to production technology, namely irrigation, to assure minimum subsistence requirements in an arid and famine-prone region of northern Mali. These questions are examined using a data set that the author collected which tracked 245 households in 2006 from a previous survey conducted in 1997-98 and a larger cross-sectional survey of 2,658 households that was collected in 151 villages across two regions of Mali (Tombouctou and Gao). The second chapter of the dissertation provides descriptive statistics from the sample and an explanation of the survey methodology. The third and fourth chapters investigate children?s time allocation to schooling, home production, and market production using participation and hours data. Two types of shocks to the household?s agricultural income and total labor availability provide plausibly exogenous variation to identify substitution effects across children?s activities including withdrawal from school and adult labor supply. These results are robust to varying assumptions about the structure of unobserved heterogeneity at the household and village level. The role of different asset types on child labor substitution between activities when households experience shocks is also investigated. Because the collection of children?s time allocation information from household surveys is prone to significant sources of measurement error, the fourth chapter also compares hours data and subjective measures of children?s work obtained through a game played with children.
The fifth chapter investigates the impact of village level irrigation projects on various household welfare indicators. Using difference-in-differences, propensity score matching, and matched difference-in-differences with an eight year panel, the impact of access to irrigation on poverty, agricultural production, and nutrient intakes is estimated. This chapter also provides evidence of both saving and sharing within villages as an alternative strategy to consuming gains in agricultural production. This finding suggests that estimating program impact using consumption data may underestimate the welfare gains of irrigation investment by ignoring the household?s saving and informal insurance network.

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child labor; irrigation


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dissertation or thesis

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