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Fairtrade Labelling and Child Labor in the Birthplace of Arabica Coffee: Experimental Evidence from Ethiopia

by Jose Galdo, Ana Dammert, Degnet Abebaw | Wednesday, December 09, 2015

This papers investigates the role of survey design on the measurement of child labor in Fairtrade coffee households in rural Ethiopia. Fairtrade labelling is advocated as an alternative to current strategies that seek to mitigate child labor due to its reliance on specific labor standards, private monitoring and attention on child labor root causes. By randomly allocating children and head of households to answer the same child labor survey module, we assess the role of survey design on child labor statistics. Based on a sample of 1200 Fairtrade households, we report three main findings. Firstly, the incidence of child labor within Fairtrade coffee households reach 47 percent and it is similar to national, representative measures of child labor in rural Ethiopia. Secondly, experimental survey treatment effects shows that Fairtrade smallholder farmers systematically underreport child labor relative to the child’s own reports, particularly for girls who shows a proxy underreporting of 9 percentage points. Thirdly, the most extensive the effective trade links between smallholder farmers and Fairtrade Cooperatives, the higher the underreporting of child labor relative to the child’s own report. On the other hand, knowledge of Fairtrade standards as well as social capital (trust) and cultural legacy (Muslims and Christians) do not shape in any systematic way the self/proxy survey treatment effects.

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