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Article Abstract

Online ISSN: 1099-176X    Print ISSN: 1091-4358
The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics
Volume 21, Issue 2, 2018. Pages: 49-58
Published Online: 1 June 2018

Copyright © 2018 ICMPE.


Child Labor Hazard on Mental Health: Evidence from Brazil

Temidayo James Aransiola,1* Marcelo Justus2

1Institute of Economics, University of Campinas - São Paulo, Brazil
2Professor, Institute of Economics, University of Campinas - São Paulo, Brazil

* Correspondence to: Temidayo James Aransiola, Institute of Economics, University of Campinas - São Paulo, Brazil.
E-mail: temidayo.aransiola@hotmail.com

Source of Funding: We thank FAPESP (São Paulo Research Foundation) for the financial support to elaborate the masters thesis which contains this paper (process number 2015/21410-8). Marcelo Justus thanks the National Council for Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq) for his Productivity in Research Grant.


Background: Child labor has been usually claimed to produce negative effects on health. However, most of the studies that investigated this hypothesis examined only its impact on child laborers' physical health. This study formulates the hypothesis that child labor may have an impact on the mental health of these individuals.

Aims of Study: The aim of this study was to investigate the risk of child laborers to develop symptoms of depression in adulthood and to examine the role of physical and mental health of the family members on their risk of developing depression.

Data and Methods: We used the 2008 National Household Sample Survey (PNAD, Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicilios) and its special supplements to estimate probit models.

Results: Individuals who started working between the age group of 15-17 have about 0.6 percentage points lesser risk of developing depression as compared to those who started working between the age group of 10-14. Further reduction of this risk was observed for the age groups of 18-19 and 20-24. No statistical evidence was found regarding older age groups. Individuals with a mother with depression have about 3.2 percentage points higher risk of presenting symptoms of depression. Chronic physical illness in mothers increases the risk of depression in child laborers by 0.3 percentage points.

Discussion and Conclusion: Our study supports the hypothesis that work during childhood increases the risk of developing depression in adulthood. Family mental health status and chronic physical illness play a substantial role in the risk that child laborers have to develop depression.

Implications for Health Policies: The results of the study indicate the need of basic mental health services aimed to the assessment and care for child laborers who withdraw from work, with the aim of reducing the risk of depression in adulthood. The results underline also the importance of mental health assessment and care for those children with a family member with depression or chronic physical illness.

Received 26 May 2017; accepted 8 March 2018

Copyright 2018 ICMPE