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Productive safety net program and children’s time use between work and schooling in Ethiopia (Woldehanna 2010)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Woldehanna T. (2010). Productive safety net program and children’s time use between work and schooling in Ethiopia. In J. Cockburn & J. Kabubo-Mariara (Eds.). Child Welfare in Developing Countries (pp. 157-209). New York, NY: Springer.

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Direct Support Program (DSP) on child labor and schooling outcomes in Ethiopia.
  • The study used a matched-comparison group design. Using data from a household survey, the author compared time spent in child labor and schooling among DSP participants and non-participants.
  • The study found that participation in the DSP was significantly associated with a lower amount of total time spent in work outside home, time spent in unpaid work outside the home and a composite measure of total work (paid and unpaid outside the home plus child care and household chores).
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Direct Support Program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Features of the Intervention

The government of Ethiopia has historically offered social welfare programs to protect citizens from periods of famine and improve food security. In 2005, they began a new social assistance program called the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP), which had two components: 1) the Public Work Program (PWP) and 2) the Direct Support Program (DSP). The DSP provided cash, food, and educational support, but did not require work activities to receive the support. The DSP targeted households that do not have people who can work, who are food insecure and do not have another source of support. For example, household members were not considered able to work if they had a disability, were lactating mothers, were pregnant, or were orphaned teenagers. Age and disability status were the primary eligibility criteria for participation in the DSP. The DSP participants were selected by each community Food Security Task Force; however, the specific method of selecting households varied by community. The program was implemented in both rural and urban areas of Ethiopia.

Features of the Study

The author used a nonexperimental design to compare the labor and schooling outcomes of children in households that participated in the DSP with those who did not, using data from the 2006 Young Lives survey. The Young Lives survey provided data on how much time youth spend in different activities, including schooling and paid work. It also asked about household demographics and participation in social programs since 2002, including whether they participated in DSP or other social programs; this information was used to identify participants for the treatment and comparison groups. The author created a matched comparison group based on child and household socioeconomic characteristics. The study included only children who were 12 years old when they took the survey. This included a total of 955 children (236 in the treatment group and 719 in the comparison group). Child labor was measured as the number of hours in a day spent in paid work outside the home, unpaid work outside the home, combined time spent in paid and unpaid work outside the home, time spent in child care and household chores, and a combined measure of all hours worked. Schooling was measured as the number of hours spent in school in a day. The author used statistical models to estimate program impacts.

Findings

Working children/Child labor

  • The study found a statistically significant relationship between DSP participation and a lower amount of total time spent in work outside of the home (whether paid or unpaid) and between DSP participation and a lower amount of total time on all work (paid and unpaid work outside the home and child care and household chores).
  • The study also found a statistically significant relationship between DSP participation and a lower amount of time spent doing only unpaid work outside the home. However, there was no significant relationship between DSP participation and time spent doing only paid work outside of the home or between DSP participation and time spent on child care and household chores.

Education (School participation/enrollment)

  • The study did not find a significant relationship between DSP participation and time spent in school.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The authors did not account for preexisting differences between the groups in child labor or schooling outcomes before DSP participation. These preexisting differences between the groups—and not the DSP— could explain the observed differences in outcomes.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Direct Support Program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Additional Sources

Woldehanna, T. (2009). Productive safety net programme and children’s time use between work and schooling in Ethiopia. Retrieved from https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/57a08b5340f0b652dd000c04/YL-WorkingPaper-40.pdf

Reviewed by CLEAR

February 2021

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