Climate Shocks and Child Labor

October 28, 2021

Working Paper—Lack of meaningful action to mitigate climate change will disproportionally impact the vulnerable, including children who are being sent into the labor force to make ends meet for poor households hit by climate shocks.

Authors: Feridoon Koohi-Kamali and Amit Roy

Environmental shocks resulting from natural disasters and climate change are becoming more prominent root causes of child labor. High-impact natural disasters especially, such as floods, hurricanes, droughts, etc., can force children into the labor market to meet basic survival needs.

Currently, India is home to the highest rate of child labor in the world and the disaster-prone economy of Ethiopia is experiencing a surge in child labor. The authors examine the dynamics between child labor and environmental shocks in these countries, finding robust evidence that climate disaster increases child labor and that higher levels of education and better health can help protect children from having to work when environmental disasters strike.

The authors find that current social safety net programs are not sufficient to provide for the basic needs of climate-shocked poor households, requiring specific environmental protection policies that directly target climatic disasters to better protect children against child labor.

Download the PDF.