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SSM Popul Health. 2019 Jun 6;8:100426. doi: 10.1016/j.ssmph.2019.100426. eCollection 2019 Aug.

The impact of increasing the minimum legal age for work on school attendance in low- and middle-income countries.

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Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University, Purvis Hall, 1020 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, QC, H3A 1A2, Canada.
Fielding School of Public Health/WORLD Policy Analysis Center, UCLA, 621 Charles E Young Dr. S, 225 Life Sciences Building, Los Angeles, CA, 90095, USA.
Public Health Research and Policy, Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics, University of Edinburgh, 20 West Richmond Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DX, Scotland, United Kingdom.
Institute of Health and Social Policy, McGill University, 1130, Pine Avenue West, Montreal, QC H3A 1A3, Canada.


Several countries have increased their legal minimum age for work in line with international conventions on child labor. We evaluated the effect of increasing the legal minimum age for work on school attendance in 3 low- and middle-income countries using difference-in-differences analyses. Increasing the legal minimum age for work increased school attendance by 3.0 (0.2, 5.8) percentage-points in Malawi, and 2.0 (0.2, 3.6) percentage-points in Colombia. In Malawi, we found a greater policy effect among girls compared to boys. In Colombia, the poorest tercile experienced the greatest improvement in educational outcomes. We found no evidence of an impact of increasing the legal minimum age for work on school attendance in Burkina Faso. Our findings suggest that increasing the legal minimum age for work has had a positive effect on educational outcomes in some low and middle income countries.


Attendance; Child labor; Child welfare; Developing nations; Labor legislation

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