Child Labor, Schooling, and Poverty in Latin America

The authors probe further into how household attributes affect the probability that children will work, and the probability of enrollment and success in school. Focusing on four household surveys in Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Peru, they find that most child labor takes place in rural areas, and that more boys than girls are recorded as workers. Children in the poorest income groups enter school late, and often exit before completing the basic school cycle. Enrollment rates for children in the wealthiest families are more than 90 percent for ages 6 to 15. For the poorest children, enrollment rates don't rise above 90 percent until age 8, and fall below 90 percent again by age 12. While the enrollment gap across income groups is only a few percentage points for children aged 8 to 11, about 15 percent of the poorest children already have spent one, or two fewer years in school by age 8, compared to the children in the wealthiest households. In addition, those poorest children begin to drop out of school in large numbers after the age of 11. For children aged 14 to 16, the difference in enrollment rates between rich and poor nearly doubles (from 20 to 34 percentage points).