This study examines how change in income affects the participation in child labor in seven West African Countries, from 1995 to 2016, through the lens of structure change theory and international trade. Benin, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo are the countries included in this study. Each of these countries are currently considered as underperformed or developing and are experiencing structural change as they move from primarily agriculture-based economies to being more balanced in the agriculture, industrial, and service sectors. The arching research question aims to testify whether an increase in income will result in a decrease in child labor. The model formed is operationalized through three different models: a differenced fixed effects model, a leveled fixed effects model, and a leveled OLS model. The empirical evidence is ambiguous; however, it is concluded that in the long run a rise in income will decrease child labor. In the paper it is discussed why an increase in child labor may first be seen when incomes initially rise, however this is not the expected long-term result. This conclusion is formed on the basis that over a significant amount of years, income will increase substantially as a result of economic structure shifts which will lead to an increase in education which will lead to further increases in income. Child labor will then decrease because children will begin to go to school more, families will have less of a need for additional income from their children, and there will be less jobs that employ children because the jobs either require more skill or are in sectors that naturally employ lower amounts of children. Furthermore, it is observed that the trade patterns of the countries being studied have a positive impact on child labor participation. Therefore, by making an effort to trade in different ways such as importing more raw goods, exporting more finished goods, and diversifying the sectors from which exports come the economy will be enhanced which in turn will mitigate child labor in the long run. It is thus recommended that countries should implement import substitution industrialization policies, invest in both different sectors and emerging markets instead of just trying to get caught up with the current state of affairs, begin to shift their economy to be more balanced relying more on the service and industrial sectors, and both invest in education and raise compulsory schooling with potential incentives.


Wu, Sophie


Business Economics


Econometrics | Growth and Development | Macroeconomics


Child Labor, West Africa, Structural Change

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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