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Effects of cash transfers on child labor and schooling in Kenya (Owoko 2014)

Absence of Conflict of Interest.

Citation

Owoko, S. A. (2014). Effects of cash transfers on child labor and schooling in Kenya (Unpublished master's thesis). Nairobi, Kenya: University of Nairobi.

Highlights

  • The objective of the study was to assess the impact of Kenya’s Cash Transfer to the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (CT-OVC) program on children’s participation in work and school.
  • The study used a post-test only design to assess differences in school enrollment and work participation between 5-17 year-old children in the CT-OVC program and those who were not in the program.
  • The study found that receipt of the cash transfer was significantly related to lower rates of child labor and higher rates of school enrollment.
  • 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 CT-OVC; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

Kenya Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Program (Kenya CT-OVC)

Features of the Intervention

The Kenya’s Cash Transfer to the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children CT-OVC program was operated by the local government with assistance from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The program aimed to support the welfare of children considered orphaned or vulnerable; this included children who had one or more parent who died, or who had a parent with a chronic health condition. These children had become more common due to the HIV/AIDs epidemic, which led to the development of the program. The selection process for the CT-OVC program was designed to target households with an OVC, and was conducted with input from the local communities, government, and donors. Households participating in the program received a cash transfer. Per the authors, there were no conditions for receiving the cash transfer but those receiving the payment were told of their responsibilities to care of the OVC who lived in their household. The program was implemented in multiple regions of Kenya, but the study was limited to the Kwale District.

Features of the Study

The study had a post-test only design that compared child labor and school participation outcomes between children in households who participated in the CT-OVC program and those in households that did not. The researchers divided the potential sample into groups based on the type of OVC: two parents decreased, one parent decreased, or having both parents alive, but with at least one who was chronically ill. The researchers randomly selected a sample for the treatment and comparison groups within those categories. For each of the CT-OVC and the comparison groups, 100 households were sent the survey (200 households total). The researchers conducted analyses with completed surveys received from 86 of households in the CT-OVC group, and 86 in the comparison group (172 total), after removing three CT-OVC surveys that were physically damaged and could not be used. The researchers used regression analyses to compare the percent of children ages 5-17 in each group who participated in child labor and school, controlling for differences in a number of characteristics such as: child gender and age, household head education level and occupation, household size, and the type of OVC (one or no parents, or parent with a chronic illness).

Findings

Employment/Child labor

  • The study found that the cash transfers were significantly associated with lower rates of child labor (84% of children in the treatment group worked compared to 93% of children in the comparison group).

Education/School participation/Enrollment

  • The study found that the cash transfers were significantly associated with higher rates of school enrollment (98% of children in the treatment group were enrolled in school compared to 73% of children in the comparison group).

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The authors did not account for preexisting differences between the groups before program participation, such as initial participation in child labor. The preexisting differences between the groups—and not the program—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 CT-OVC program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

December 2018

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