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

  • 2014
  • Working Paper
Alam, Shamma Adeeb

Publisher/Institution: University of Washington – Seattle

Abstract: Prior literature provides limited empirical evidence on the impact of parental illness on child labor and schooling outcomes. This paper examines this relationship using panel data from Tanzania. Specifically, we study if parental illness causes households to reallocate children’s time from school to work. We find that a father’s illness hinders child schooling by decreasing attendance and hours spent in school. These effects on schooling are substantially greater for severe illnesses. There is also evidence that a father’s illness has long-term impact on child education, as it decreases their likelihood of completing primary school and leads to fewer total years of schooling. However, a father’s illness has no effect on child labor. In contrast, a mother’s illness does not affect child education, but does cause a small increase in children’s work. Surprisingly, we find that parental illness does not have a differential impact by children’s gender. Additionally, illness of other household members, such as grandparents, adult siblings, and child siblings, has no effect on children’s schooling. Thus, overall, we find no evidence that parental illness or illness of other household members affects children’s schooling through increased child labor. Instead, the results suggest that only illness of fathers, who are typically the primary income earners in Tanzanian households, reduces household income and severely decreases the family’s ability to afford child education.


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