Impact of child labor on academic achievement for sixth graders in Latin America: Findings from TERCE


  • David Post Penn State and FLACSO



Child Labor, academic achievement, sociology of education


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.


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Author Biography

David Post, Penn State and FLACSO

David Post is Professor of Education Policy at Penn State, and during 2019-2021 he is the President-elect / President of the Comparative and International Education Society.  He is the author of several studies of child labor and education in Latin America, including Children's Work, Schooling, and Welfare in Latin America (2002, Westview Press) and Trabajo, La Escuela, y Bienestar de los Niños en América Latina (2003, Fondo de Cultura Económico).



How to Cite

Post, D. (2018). Impact of child labor on academic achievement for sixth graders in Latin America: Findings from TERCE. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 26, 75.