Impact of child labor on academic achievement for sixth graders in Latin America: Findings from TERCE
Child labor negatively affects children’s learning and futures if it lowers their chance to acquire math and reading skills. However, work outside of school could also provide an alternative path to adult socialization and material welfare where schools do not provide such a path. In Latin America the possible development of skills from work is not only an academic question, but also a critical point bearing on policy, because many children and youth divide their time and energies between both schooling and work. This article contributes to the debate about the net impact on academic achievement among children who both work and study during sixth grade. The article reports analysis of data from the TERCE survey of students and families in fifteen Latin American countries. OLS regression estimations suggest there is no level of paid or unpaid out-of-school work that is not associated with lowered academic achievement. HLM estimates controlling for school quality also show a negative association between work and proficiency in math and reading.