Absence of conflict of interest.
Andisha, N., Chiquito-Saban, O., Emmerich, E., Figueroa, A., Jiang, Y., Lee, J. H., Manning, D., Ortega-Sanchez, A., & Gawande, K. (2014.) Reducing child labour in Panama: An impact evaluation. Journal of Development Effectiveness, 6(2), 128-146.
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of two components of the DESTINO program—CEC (a tutoring course) and EPA (an alternative primary school program)—on children’s participation in agricultural work in Panama. This summary focuses on the comparison between the CEC treatment group and the comparison group.
- The study used a nonexperimental comparison group design. Using post-intervention survey data, the authors compared the outcomes for children in schools receiving CEC services to those that were the same age as the CEC children but did not participate in the program.
- The study found that participation in the CEC program was significantly associated with a reduction in the number of hours that children worked per day but not the probability of children working.
- 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 CEC program; other factors are likely to have contributed.
DESTINO’s CEC program
Features of the Intervention
The U.S. Department of Labor funded and Casa Esperanza implemented the DESTINO program in Panama between August 2004 and August 2008 with the goal of reducing child agricultural labor. One DESTINO component was the CEC program. The CEC program was an in-school tutoring program for children under 12 years of age. It was implemented in 30 Panamanian schools that operated five days a week for ten months a year during the normal school year. DESTINO determined the placement of the CEC program based on the number of child laborers (e.g., potential program beneficiaries). The children within the CEC schools that were offered the tutoring was based on the program’s assessment of the child’s risk (i.e., "the poorest of the poor").
Features of the Study
The study was a nonexperimental comparison group design. No baseline data were available so post-treatment outcomes were compared for the CEC treatment group and a comparison group across ten regions. Data were sourced from a survey of 185 households, representing 427 children, taken after the completion of the DESTINO program (including participants in both the CEC and EPA programs). The comparison group for the CEC was children of the same age who had not received the CEC program. The full sample for the CEC program included 158 children in the treatment group and 240 children in the comparison group. The authors used regression models with controls for observable and unobservable characteristics to test the impact of the program.
- The study found that attending the CEC program was significantly associated with a reduction in hours spent per day in economic activities. However, the study found no significant relationship between participation in the CEC program and the probability of children participating in economic activities.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
Because no baseline data were available, the authors could not sufficiently account for preexisting differences between the groups before program participation. These preexisting differences between the groups—and not the CEC 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 CEC program; other factors are likely to have contributed.