Poster Paper: Parental Health Shocks, Child Labor and Educational Outcomes: Evidence From Tanzania

Saturday, November 9, 2013
West End Ballroom A (Washington Marriott)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Shamma Adeeb Alam, University of Washington
This study examines the impact of adults’ health on child labor and schooling outcomes. Despite the effect of numerous fatal diseases on households, there has been no prior research that focuses on the effect of parental illness on child labor and educational outcomes. Employing longitudinal data from the Kagera region in Tanzania, a region severely affected by malaria and HIV/AIDS, this study demonstrates that parental sickness lead to increased child labor. Consequently, the increased child labor leads to lower school attendance and enrollment, where father’s illness having a more harmful effect compared to mother’s illness. Subsequently, it culminates in children failing their grade and in some cases dropping out of school altogether.  Moreover, it also delays children’s entry into the primary school. Furthermore, this study finds longer term effects on education: parental illness significantly decreases the likelihood of finishing primary school and on average decreases a child’s schooling by one-half of a year. Furthermore, using doctor’s diagnosis, this study is able to show that parents suffering from malaria have a very similar effect on child labor and education. Additionally, this study also analyzes the heterogeneity in the data: older children and girls are more likely to work and less likely to be enrolled in school because of parental illness. The paper concludes with policy implications.