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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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Enhancement of literacy rates through the imparting of uniform quality education might be an effective tool against poverty and extremism in most developing countries with abundant human resources. Pakistan presents a challenging case, as children below 14 years of age make up about 35 percent of the total population. Considering the likely role that human capital formation can play in the development of the country, this study aims at delineating the factors impeding human capital formation. To deal with this essential issue, this study focuses on three main research questions. First, what are the determinants of participation in childhood educational and other activities? In answering this question, the trade-offs between secular and religious educations are specifically examined. Second, what are the factors affecting the household head’s perceptions of secular and non-secular education, and how do these perceptions influence the process of human capital formation of the children? Third, how does the combined activity of working and attending secular education affect a child’s achievements in school? To answer these questions, a field survey was conducted in 43 urban and rural settings during the months of August to December 2009. Using a multistage stratified random sampling design, 963 household-heads were interviewed and data on 2,496 children was collected from the four provinces of Pakistan. The sample does not claim representativeness for the country, however when compared with the Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey (2008-09) and National Educational Census (2005) data, it does not deviate significantly from national rates. This...

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