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Do economic stresses influence child work hours on family farms?

Gadomski A; de Long R; Burdick P; Jenkins P
J Agromedicine 2005 Apr; 10(2):39-48
Economic stresses are a frequently cited reason for children doing farm work. To explore the relationship between economic indicators and child agricultural work hours between January 2001 and October 2003. This ecologic study design compares trends in aggregate child work hours with national and regional economic indicators. Child work hours were obtained from quarterly surveillance data from a randomized field trial of agricultural task guidelines for children. 2,360 children living or working on 845 farms in central New York participated in the original study. The relationship between child work hours and three economic indicators: national all farm index (AFI) ratio, national fuel index, and regional milk prices was analyzed using times series plots, correlation, and multiple linear regression. The AFI ratio was positively correlated with child work hours (r = 0.49, p = 0.008) but there was no significant correlation between child work hours and fuel or milk prices. Multiple linear regression demonstrated that the relationship between AFI and child work hours is independent of a seasonal effect. Increased child work hours may be associated with periods of higher farm sector productivity, rather than economic stress per se. Findings are limited by the ecologic study design, use of national economic indicators, and the limited number of cycles of child work hours available for time series analysis. Economic conditions may influence decisions about children's farm work.
Farmers; Agriculture; Agricultural-workers; Agricultural-industry; Children; Occupational-accidents; Workers; Work-environment; Work-analysis; Author Keywords: Child work; agricultural injury; all farm index; milk prices; fuel prices
Anne Gadomski, MD, MPH, Research Institute, One Atwell Road, Cooperstown, NY 13326
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Journal Article
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Journal of Agromedicine
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Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital
Page last reviewed: May 13, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division