Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Yongsheng Xu - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Heying Jenny Zhan

Third Advisor

Dr. Felix K. Rioja

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Ragan Petrie

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Jorge L. Martinez-Vazquez


In this dissertation, we first develop a simple two-period model to examine the parent's optimal choice of children's time. We identify factors such as wage rate, school fees, education returns, degree of children's altruism toward their parents and the parents' discounting rate that influence the parents' optimal choice, and discuss their impacts on the optimal choice. Children's time is an important resource for rural households in developing economies, and it is typically allocated by the parents. Two basic uses for this resource are: working in the labor market and attending schools. Schooling today may make children more productive in the future. The opportunity cost of schooling is the forgone wage rate in the labor market. Allocation of children's time is therefore mainly determined by education return, wage rate in labor market and school fees. Many existing models in the literature cannot explain the coexistence of schooling, poverty and the coexistence of child labor and affluence. We extend our basic model to explain the above two paradoxes. We show that, when education return is high and the household is willing to endure extra hardship caused by the child attending school, the coexistence of schooling and poverty can emerge. On the other hand, when the wage rate for child labor and schooling fees are higher than education return, affluence and child labor can co-exist. Governments have adopted various policy tools to fight against child labor, among which the compulsory education law and free education programs stand out. Our basic model is then extended to examine how these two types of government policies may impact child labor. We show the relative performance of the two policies depend crucially on several factors, including the enforcement and the costs to the household of the compulsory education law. We use the recent Chinese experience in changing the compulsory education law to free education plan to illustrate and verify our theoretical prediction.


Included in

Economics Commons