Child labor and mothers' work in Brazil

Deborah Degraff, Deborah Levison, Mary Robison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore associations between children's and mothers” work. Design/methodology/approach – Brazilian household survey data are used to examine characteristics of children's and mothers' work in tandem. Findings – Children are more likely to be in the labor force if their mothers are working, especially girls, younger children and rural children. There are strong connections between mothers' and children's employment characteristics, including industry and sector, location, commute times and whether paid. Employed children are more likely to work long hours if their mothers do, or if their mothers are not employed. Practical implications – Connections between women's and children's work imply that changes in women's employment can change the work activities of their children. Policies and programs designed to influence women's labor force participation, such as microcredit programs, should consider their effects on children's time. Moreover, programs, laws, and international conventions that address only child labor ignore the family context of child work, limiting their potential impact. Originality/value – The paper uses quantitative techniques and survey data to examine a topic usually investigated through small qualitative studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-163
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology and Social Policy
StatePublished - Apr 24 2009


  • Brazil
  • Children (age groups)
  • Employment
  • Labour
  • Parents


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