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Education, Child Labor and Human Capital Formation in Selected Urban and Rural Settings of Pakistan


Abdul Salam Lodhi

Education is essential for human resource development and sustainable socio-economic development of a society, as it can facilitate economic growth through the broader application of knowledge, skills, and the creative strength of a society. The other positive and long-term outcomes of education include the reduction of poverty and inequality, improvement of health status and good governance in the implementation of socio-economic policies. Keeping in view the role that education through human capital formation can play in the development of Pakistan where the population of the children below 14 years old is about 35 percent of the total population; this study aims at delineating the factors that are obstructing the educational activities of the children below the age of 14 years. Furthermore, the main research interest in this study was to see how pecuniary and non-pecuniary factors are impeding the process of human capital formation. The results indicate that variables such as parental education and perceptions of secular and non-secular education, role of mother in domestic authority, believe in tribal norms, religiosity of the head-of-household, child age and gender, and proximity to school are playing a significant role in the choice of childhood activities.


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The importance of education for economic development has long been recognized. The consequences that the developing world is facing because of illiteracy and poor performance of educational systems are obvious. Many of the less developed countries that are spending little on education consequently have poor quality of education, often combined with high rates of implicit exclusion of girls from educational opportunities. Pakistan is particularly suffering from a poor educational system, where children below 14 years of age make up about 35 percent of the total population. Their proper education is critical for the future development opportunities of the country. This study by Abdul Salam Lodhi identifies the factors that impede children’s educational activities and hinder human capital formation in urban and rural areas of Pakistan. It uses a unique data set collected from all four provinces of the country. The impact of household, child, and community characteristics on the actual selection of a child’s activities – i.e. secular school attendance, religious education, and child labor - were analyzed for children of 5 to 14 years aged. The study finds that instead of capabilities and willingness of students, social norms, parental attitude, economic status, gender and proximity to school are the main determinants for children to enter in the educational institutions. Along with economic factors, other socio-economic factors also play an important role for children to go to school, or to religious education or to enter the child labor market. Parents’ perception of secular versus religious education is found to play a...

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