Household Vulnerability and Children’s Activities: Information Needed from Household Surveys to Measure their Relationship

Studies that have been done on the relationships between poverty, vulnerability, risks and children's activities have shown that child work may not always be a consequence of poverty, and that some aspects of vulnerability may be more important in determining whether children work or not vis a vis others. In order to analyze the relationships between vulnerability, risk, and children's activities, both quantitative and qualitative information is needed. Information on vulnerability cannot be measured directly. It is not possible to simply ask a household whether or not it is vulnerable. It must be measured through proxies such as tangible assets (land, labor capital, and savings), and intangible assets (social capital, proximity to markets, health and education facilities, and empowerment). Measurement of children's activities, and especially those that would encompass child labor, include many characteristics, other than just the activities that children perform. It is also necessary to collect information on characteristics of other members of the household, especially the parents, and characteristics of the community in which the child lives. This paper provides an overview of the information needed to measure both household vulnerability, and children's activities using household surveys. Explanations of key concepts are included, and examples of questions to include in household surveys are provided. It also provides information on how to adapt existing household questionnaires, problems that may be encountered if changes are implemented and basic information on the administration of household surveys.