Skip to main content

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 Public Work Program (PWP) on child labor and schooling outcomes in rural 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 PWP participants and non-participants.
  • The study found that participation in PWP was significantly associated with a lower amount of time spent on 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 Public Work 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). Offered in rural areas only, the PWP provided households with varying amounts of cash or food depending on the amount of work they contributed to public works projects. The PWP targeted households that have people who can work, who are food insecure and/or in poverty, and do not have another source of support. A combination of administrative and community targeting was used to identify eligible participants. The PWP participants were selected by each community Food Security Task Force; however, the specific method of selecting households varied by community.

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 PWP 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 PWP 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 584 children. 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 that participation in PWP was significantly associated with a lower amount of time spent on child care and household chores.
  • The study did not find a significant relationship between PWP participation and total time spent in paid and unpaid work outside the home, time spent in unpaid work outside of the home, time spent in paid work outside of the home, or in the composite measure of total work.

Education (School participation/enrollment)

  • The study did not find a significant relationship between PWP 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 PWP participation. These preexisting differences between the groups—and not the PWP— 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 Public Work 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

Topic Area