Absence of conflict of interest.
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Child Grant Programme (CGP) on child labor and education outcomes in Lesotho.
- The study used a randomized controlled trial to compare outcomes between children in households that received the cash transfer with children in households that did not.
- The study found that participation in the CGP was significantly associated with increased school enrollment two years after the introduction of the program.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because it was based on a randomized controlled trial with high attrition and the treatment group received a second grant payment, the Food Emergency Grant, which presents a confound. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to Child Grant Programme (CGP); other factors are likely to have contributed.
Features of the Intervention
Established in 2009, the Child Grant Programme (CGP) provided unconditional cash transfers to poor households with children in Lesotho, South Africa. The purpose of the CGP was to reduce child poverty and improve living standards, including reducing malnutrition, increasing school enrollment, and improving the health of orphans and other vulnerable children. The cash transfer was a quarterly payment of the equivalence of US $50-$105 (M360-M750) to eligible households. The payment represented about 16 percent of household expenditures. Program eligibility was determined by two factors: 1) Proxy Means Testing using high vulnerability economic indicator ratings from the National Information System for Social Assistance (NISSA) survey, and 2) community validation. The NISSA divided households into five groups: ultra-poor, very poor, poor, less poor, and better off. Community members selected households from the ultra-poor and very poor NISSA categories with at least one child under 17 to be eligible for the program.
Features of the Study
The study was a randomized controlled trial in which 96 electoral divisions (EDs) from 10 Community Counsels were randomly assigned to either the treatment (48 EDs) or control group (48 EDs). Eligible households in the treatment EDs received the unconditional cash transfer quarterly payments of US $50 (M360) regardless of the size of the household and the number of children. For the last quarterly payment, the payment scheme changed so that payments were based on the number of children in the household: US $50 (M360) for 1-2 children; US $84 (M600) for 3-4 children; and US $105 (M750) for 5 and more children. In the control EDs, eligible households would not receive the transfers until after the study ended.
The study used National Information System for Social Assistance (NISSA) data, household survey data, and community evaluation data. The authors used a stratified random sample for the household survey. The baseline survey was conducted in June-August 2011 and the follow-up survey was conducted in June-August 2013. At baseline, there were 747 eligible households sampled in the treatment EDs and 739 eligible households in the control EDs. Any households lost at follow-up due to changes in household structure were replaced with new households with the highest likelihood of retaining the transfer and were matched to the baseline observation. The analytic sample at follow-up included 706 households in the treatment EDs and 648 households in the control EDs. The authors used sampling weights to adjust for high attrition and estimated impacts using statistical models with controls for child and household characteristics and Community Counsel designation. Outcomes included children’s work participation and hours and days worked in the last seven days in any economic activity; children’s work participation; hours and days in farming and livestock activities; time spent in household chores; and school enrollment.
Working children/Child labor
- The study found no significant relationship between participation in the CGP and participation in any economic activity or hours or days worked in any economic activity in the last seven days.
- The study found no significant relationship between participation in the CGP and participation in any farming/livestock economic activities or hours or days worked in farming/livestock economic activity in the last seven days.
- The study found no significant relationship between participation in the CGP and time spent on household chores.
Education (School participation/enrollment)
- The study found that participation in the CGP was significantly associated with increased school enrollment at follow-up (a 4 percent increase).
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
Although the study was a randomized controlled trial, it had high attrition at the unit of analysis level (household and children). The household numbers at follow-up indicated a 9 percent overall attrition rate and a 7 percent differential attrition rate between the treatment and control groups. Attrition at the unit of assignment (i.e., EDs) was unknown. A confounding factor was also identified. There was a second unrelated grant, the Food Emergency Grant, that was also provided to the treatment group during the course of the study so the program impacts cannot be attributed with certainty to the CGP.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because it was a randomized controlled trial with high attrition and the treatment group received a second grant payment, the Food Emergency Grant, which presents a confound. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to Child Grant Programme (CGP); other factors are likely to have contributed.