Waterloo economics series | 2016

#16-001 -- Francisco Gonzalez and Irving Rosales

The case against child labor bans


We argue that enforcing blanket child labor restrictions in developing economies, as advocated in the ILO Convention 138, is harmful even in the long run. The social return to child labor can be higher than its private return if laws against crime and laws in favor of compulsory education are not enforced, in which case child labor crowds out both child crime and crime against children.

JEL classification

J88; O15

#16-002 -- Alicia Adsera and Ana Ferrer

“Speeding up for a son? Fertility transitions among Migrants to Canada”

We use the 2001 and 2006 Canadian Census to study how the sex-ratios at second birth, conditional on both the spacing between the first two children and the gender of the first, vary across place of birth or religious affiliation. We find that South Asian women give birth to a higher proportion of boys after a first-born girl compared to both natives and other immigrant groups with girls and also to South Asians with a first-born boy. Across religious groups, Sikhs present a similar behavior. These abnormal sex-ratios are particularly skewed when the time span between the first two births is short. This seems to indicate sex-selective abortion that happens more frequently after conceptions that occur fairly close to the birth of a first girl. Sex ratios return (close) to normal for these groups if live-births are spaced three years or longer.

JEL Classification

D19, J00, J13, J16

#16-003 -- Jeremy Clark and Ana Ferrer

“The Effect of Housing Price Changes on Fertility: Evidence from Canada”

To the extent that families’ fertility decisions respond to economic factors, the price of housing is an important and relatively neglected candidate for consideration in fertility decisions. In theory, the effect of changes in housing prices on family size will depend on the quantity of housing that a family already owns, and its elasticity of substitution between children and other “goods”. For renters, rises in rental costs associated with higher housing prices imply only a substitution effect that should reduce their likelihood of having additional children. Home-owners are predicted to have more children in response to higher house prices if they have sufficient housing and low substitution, but fewer children otherwise. In this paper, we combine longitudinal data from the Canadian Survey of Labour Income and Dynamics (SLID) and average housing price data at real estate board (REB) level from the Canadian Real Estate Association to estimate the effect of house prices on fertility. We follow non-moving women aged 18-40 (with their associated families) over time to ask whether changes in lagged housing price affects either total number of children, or the probability of a family having an additional birth. We differ from previous studies in employing person- rather than region-fixed effects, in covering both rural and urban areas, and in exploring the effect of housing price changes on total number of children vs. the probability of having an additional child. For home owners, we find that lagged REB housing prices are positively associated with the probability of a birth in the previous year under pooled cross section or fixed effects. Housing prices are significantly negatively associated with total fertility measures under pooled cross section, but positively associated with number of children in the home under fixed effects. For renters, we find that lagged REB housing prices are not significantly negatively associated with either total or marginal fertility measures.

JEL Classification

D13, J13, J18, R21