Theses Doctoral

Microfinance, Child Work and Education

Akilova, Mashura

More than 168 million children work worldwide. While some types of work are beneficial for children, some types are detrimental for children's health, growth, education and future well-being. The theory defines poverty and lack of access to credit as main causes of child work. While there is no one-to-one replacement, work reduces the amount of education received by child workers as it competes for children's time. This mix-method dissertation explores child work in two studies: 1) a qualitative study of child work in Tajikistan and 2) a quantitative study of microfinance participation and its effect on global child work and education.
The qualitative study of the child work is analyzed through narratives of child workers and their parents in Tajikistan. This study examined the pathways to child work and the families' understanding of child work experiences. Furthermore, the factors causing the increase of child work prevalence in the country and the consequences of children's involvement in the labor market were explored. The children and parent's narratives revealed several common themes. First, the families resort to child work due to financial need. Second, less explored and unconventional perspectives on child work were recorded. Children and parents describe employment as means to become independent and gain respect and status. Moreover, they list becoming socialized and prepared to adult life from early stages of life as a value added to labor market engagement. Child work was also described as means to stay physically healthy and as a protective factor from risk-taking behaviors.
The quantitative analysis of this dissertation explores the topic through a broader perspective. The study evaluates the impact of microfinance programs on child economic activity and education globally, using macro data for 113 countries of the world for the period of 15 years (1995-2010). The results of the study suggest that there is a positive association between microfinance and secondary school enrollment. The relationship between microfinance and primary school enrollment, as well as primary school completion is ambiguous. No statistically significant relationship between microfinance and child work was found. Future research directions and implications for policy are examined.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
Garfinkel, Irwin
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 24, 2015