Is bonded labour voluntary?
This paper proposes a new framework to combat forced work. Previously, bonded labor has been used as a broad concept covering both voluntary relationships, similar to what is described in models of permanent labor, and more coercive working relationships where the landlord uses manipulation, coercion, market power or other strategic methods to bond the workers.
However, since the policy implications of emancipating bonded labor can be very different if the relationships are voluntary, and since there are several models that explain these types of permanent working relationships, we have concentrated on non-voluntary working relationships. We have used evidence of the latter to define bonded labor as a labor relationship where the worker is trapped with the landlord due to the latter part's use of power. The important feature of the model is that a bonded laborer is a laborer that would never had entered the relationship if he was given the choice. Hence, the bonded laborer's outside option is in fact the preferred choice.