Absence of conflict of interest.
de Hoop, J. & Rosati, F. C. (2014). Does promoting school attendance reduce child labour? Evidence from Burkina Faso’s Bright project. Economics of Education Review, 39, 78-96. doi:10.1016/j.econedurev.2013.11.001
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the BRIGHT project on school participation and child labor in Burkina Faso in West Africa.
- The study used a regression discontinuity design. Villages were assigned to the treatment and comparison groups based on a numeric score (a constructed index score of how likely the program would be to benefit girls). Villages above the cut-off score received the program; villages below did not receive the program. Using survey data from schools and households, the authors analyzed the impact of the program on child labor, school enrollment, and school attendance for children aged 5-12.
- The study found that participation in the BRIGHT project was significantly associated with an increase in the probability of children working in the family business or selling goods on the streets. However, program participation was also significantly related to an increase in school enrollment and attendance.
- This study used a regression discontinuity design and therefore was reviewed using CLEAR’s descriptive study evidence review guidelines. As such, it does not receive a causal rating.
Features of the Intervention
The BRIGHT project, in Burkina Faso, West Africa, was funded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and designed to increase school participation. In Burkina Faso, 37 percent of children aged 5-14 attended school and 38 percent of children aged 5-14 participated in an economic activity for an average of over 20 hours per week. Most the economic activity for children was unpaid work in agriculture (69%) and domestically in other households (22%). The BRIGHT project was a package of interventions with two primary components: (1) building schools in the villages and (2) providing incentives for school attendance including textbooks, school kits, and in-school meals. Girls with a monthly attendance rate of 90% also received take-home rations. The BRIGHT project started in 2005 and by 2007 most of the schools had been constructed.
Features of the Study
The authors used a regression discontinuity design (RDD) to compare the outcomes in the treatment villages and the comparison villages. Ten rural provinces (Banwa, Gnagana, Komandjari, Namentenga, Oudalan, Sanmentenga, Seno, Soum, Tapoa, and Yagha) with the lowest levels of girls’ primary school completion were selected to participate. Forty-nine departments in the provinces nominated 293 villages to be part of the program. Representatives from nominated villages completed a 16-item weighted survey resulting in a numeric score. The survey included items on the number of girls in the village, school characteristics and plan to implement the program (heavily weighted on how likely the program was to help girls). Villages above the cut-off score received the program; villages below did not receive the program and served as the comparison group. Of these, 132 villages were selected to receive the program based on the cut-off score and the available funding. In each village, a census of households was conducted noting girls present and animals used for carrying heavy loads or heavy work such as donkeys (i.e., beasts of burden). To select the households that would complete the survey, the census was stratified into three groups: those that own a beast of burden, those that do not own an animal (such as a donkey or llama), but have access, and those that do not own or have access. Beast of burden served as a proxy for income level, with ownership indicating a higher income level for households. In each village, ten households from each stratum (30 total) were randomly selected to be interviewed.
After the program ended in the spring of 2008, a household survey collected general characteristic data on the households such as race and ethnicity and information about the construction materials of the house as well as information about the children in the households aged 5-14 and their participation in work and school. Data about the schools, school personnel, and children’s school attendance was also collected through a school survey. Child labor outcomes included participation in five economic activities (work outside the household, work for pay outside the household, work in the family business or selling goods in the street, farming, and tending animals).
Working children/Child labor
- The study found that participating in the BRIGHT project was significantly related to an increase in the probability of children working in the family business or selling goods on the streets. No other significant relationships were found for the other types of economic activity or household chores.
- In a combined measure of “work,” including both economic activities outside the home and household chores, the study found that participating in the BRIGHT project was significantly related to an increase in the probability of children working.
Education (School participation/enrollment)
- The study found that participating in the BRIGHT project was significantly associated with an increase in school enrollment and school attendance (in school on last day and in school during roll call).
Causal Evidence Rating
This study uses a regression discontinuity design and therefore was reviewed using CLEAR’s descriptive study evidence review guidelines. As such, it does not receive a causal rating.