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Child Labor and Schooling Decisions among Self-Help Groups Members in Rural India

Abstract : This paper investigates the consequences of the participation in informal microfinance groups, known as Self-Help Groups (SHGs), on children’s education and work in rural India. We analyze first-hand data collected from a panel of households in areas where new groups were formed in 2002. We observe these households three times over a five year period, which allows us to examine medium-term effects of SHG participation. We find a robust and strong increase in treated children’s secondary school enrollment rate over time, by about 20 percentage points, to be compared with a baseline rate of 45%. This effect stems from a quicker grade progression, leading to lower drop-out rates between primary and secondary school. We find no decrease in overall child labor (but a reorientation towards part-time domestic work), indicating that there is no clear substitution between labor and education for children of secondary-school age in rural India. Contrary to what is usually believed, we show that credit does not play any direct role in the increased schooling. However, we find evidence that it partly follows from social interactions within SHGs, under the form of peer effects. Our findings indicate that microfinance groups can have large effects on the human capital of participants and their families, though such effects can take time to materialize and happen through unintended channels.
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Submitted on : Thursday, May 14, 2020 - 7:41:19 PM
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Jean-Marie Baland, Timothée Demont, Rohini Somanathan. Child Labor and Schooling Decisions among Self-Help Groups Members in Rural India. 2018. ⟨halshs-02579594⟩

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