Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



Why Children do not Go to School in PakistanSome Estimates and a Theoretical Framework

Pakistan has a grave problem of human capital. The majority of our children tend not to go to school. Instead they go to work. Policy on education and child labour has been clearly deficient in Pakistan. This policy failure, we feel is due to analytical deficiency in understanding the determinants and impact of children’s schooling and labour. The theoretical framework of this study is based on five arguments. 1. Schooling, and child labour, are two aspects of the the same problem, the problem of why children do not go to school. Schooling and child labour are both the result of one decision-making process, whether to send a child to school, or to work. 2. Mainstream literature on Pakistan does not consider the impact of this household decision-making about children’s schooling and labour on the aggregate labour market. 3. Mainstream literature on Pakistan further does not consider the impact of child labour on the labour market for women. 4. Mainstream literature also does not consider yet another impact of household decision-making about children’s schooling and labour on fertility behaviour. ·5. These three processes, household decision-making about children, the impact on the labour market, and the impact on fertility, combine to give a perverse signalling mechanism that tends to depress children’s schooling, increase child labour, depress adult employment especially for women, and increase fertility rates. So policy failure in Pakistan, may in large part be due to the inability to understand these three processes, and their combination in a perverse signalling mechanism.

Almal Baig, Tarlo Javaid, Moazam Mahmood

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