DP6772 | Trade Adjustment and Human Capital Investments: Evidence from Indian Tariff Reform

Publication Date

23/04/2008

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Abstract

Does trade policy influence schooling and child labor decisions in low income countries? We examine this question in the context of India's 1991 tariff reforms. Overall, in the 1990s, rural India experienced a dramatic increase in schooling and decline in child labor. These trends were attenuated in communities where employment was concentrated in industries loosing tariff protection. The data suggest that this failure to follow the national trend of increasing schooling and diminishing work is associated with a failure to follow the national trend in poverty reduction. Schooling costs appear to play a large role in this relationship between poverty, schooling, and child labor. Extrapolating from our results, our estimates imply that roughly half of India's rise in schooling and a third of the fall in child labor during the 1990s can be explained by falling poverty and therefore improved capacity to afford schooling.