Suggests an economic framework for thinking about the value of children to their parents and uses this framework to propose alternative methods of constructing empirical measures of child value. The measures encompass child work in the parent's household and the labor market as well as old age security from children; they are derived from the assumption that parents allocate their young children's time efficiently. Survey and research use of these empirical measures in less developed countries should facilitate study of the amount and distribution of children's contribution to national output; the economic benefits to families and the nation of health, nutrition, and schooling changes; the persistence of many rural people in having large families; and the failure of many parents in traditional settings to use available schools, nutritious food, and health care for their children. Bibliog. 50 pp.