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Journal Article

Dangerous Trade‐offs: The Behavioral Ecology of Child Labor and Prostitution in Rural Northern Thailand

LisaRende Taylor
Current Anthropology
Vol. 46, No. 3 (June 2005), pp. 411-431
DOI: 10.1086/430079
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/430079
Page Count: 21

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Topics: Child labor, Daughters, Parents, Education, Workforce, Age, Childbirth, Sex workers, Siblings, Children
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Dangerous Trade‐offs
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Abstract

Rapid globalization in Thailand has resulted in massive labor migration streams of rural Thais to Bangkok and abroad. An unfortunate derivative of this phenomenon is the trafficking of northern Thai women and girls, primarily to work in the commercial sex industry. Poverty and low educational attainment are often cited as the key root causes of trafficking in women and girls. However, not all poor girls end up in these situations, nor are all girls in these situations from poor families. Which girls, then, are at risk? A 14month study in two northern Thai villages investigated parental investment and familial roles in relation to child labor, prostitution, and trafficking. Through logistic regression and survival analysis, birth position, parental marital instability, and educational attainment (which increases risk) were found to predict the odds of a girls being entered into hazardous labor and the age at which this occurs. Parental wealth was not significant, revealing neither poverty nor lack of education as the driving forces behind hazardous labor and trafficking of northern Thai children. It is suggested here that hazardous labor may be driven by a concern for providing status signals for the matriline and the opportunity costs presented by education: girls who have spent most of their childhood in school and their families expect high returns on their humancapital investment.

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