Inside the Cocoa Pod: An Analysis of the Harkin-Engel Protocol in Cote d'Ivoire
In November of 2011, Senator Tom Harkin traveled to West Africa to evaluate the progress of child labor reduction efforts in the region. His trip coincided with the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Harkin-Engel Protocol, a commitment by the cocoa and chocolate industry, along with civil society groups, to eradicate the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa supply chain. Since the signing of that protocol, dozens of projects have been implemented in West Africa in efforts to make educational alternatives more accessible to families, sensitize the public to the negative effects of child labor, and reduce the worst forms of child labor. While some efforts have been made to analyze the effects of these projects, none have performed a rigorous, statistical analysis to investigate whether these programs have been effective. The effects of remediation projects in Cote d'Ivoire have been particularly unclear. This study uses data on over 2,500 children from regions in Cote d'Ivoire gathered by Tulane University in 2008 to test whether these projects have reduced the amount of child labor in cocoa growing regions and the amount of physical harm that children have endured as a result of their work on cocoa plantations. Results indicate that children's participation in a remediation project was associated with lower probabilities of working on a cocoa plantation. Children who participated in such projects also worked fewer hours in agriculture and had a lower probability of machete use. While these results are promising, remediation projects alone are insufficient in achieving widespread eradication of child labor in the cocoa sector.
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