Staff from ICF, which administers CLEAR, contributed to this study. Therefore, the review of this study was conducted by an independent consultant trained in applying the CLEAR causal evidence guidelines. Absence of conflict of interest.
Edmonds, E. V., & Shrestha, M. (2014). You get what you pay for: Schooling incentives and child labor. Journal of Development Economics, 111, 196-211. doi:10.1016/j.jdeveco.2014.09.005
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of financial schooling incentives (a scholarship and stipend) on school attendance and carpet weaving (a worst form of child labor) among youth ages 10-16 in Nepal. This summary focuses on the comparison between the stipend treatment group and the control group.
- The study was a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in which children were randomly assigned to receive one of two schooling incentives (a scholarship or stipend) or to participate in the control group that did not receive any incentives. Using administrative data from schools and survey data, the authors analyzed the impact of the treatment conditions on school attendance and child labor at the end of the school year and 16 months after the intervention ended.
- The study found that the stipend treatment group had significantly higher levels of school attendance and lower rates of carpet weaving than the control group at the end of the school year.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high because it was based on a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Schooling Incentives Project Stipend, and not to other factors.
Schooling Incentives Project
Features of the Intervention
The Schooling Incentives Project was implemented in the carpet-sector in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Children were eligible to participate if their families worked in carpet weaving, had three or more school-aged children in their household, had an income below a certain threshold, and only one or no children in their family attended school or one child had dropped out prior to completing eighth grade. The Schooling Incentives Project included two interventions. Under the scholarship condition, families were reimbursed for the costs of their child’s schooling (including tuition, fees, supplies) up to 3,950 NPR (Nepali rupees) per year (approximately $55 USD). Under the stipend condition, families received the same scholarship and a monthly stipend conditional on the previous month's school attendance exceeding 80 percent. The stipend took the form of food rations and was worth approximately 1,000 NPR ($14 USD) per month. The intervention lasted one school year.
Features of the Study
A randomized controlled design was used to evaluate the impact of the intervention by randomly assigning children ages 10-16 to receive one of two educational incentive treatments or to not receive any educational incentives. Children were initially identified if their guardian worked at a manufacturer with Nepal GoodWeave Foundation (NGF) licensee, which certifies that companies are free of child labor, or if their guardian worked at a subcontractor of one of the NGF licensees. From these children, 660 met program criteria. The children were randomly assigned to one of the two treatment groups or to the control group, with 220 children in each group. To assess outcomes, administrative data from schools were gathered during the year of the intervention. Surveys were administered before the start of the school year (March 2010), mid-year (September 2010), at the end of the school year (May 2011), and 16 months after the intervention was complete (August 2012). Survey participants were given a small financial incentive in all but the final wave of data collection. The authors compared outcomes between each of the treatment groups and the control group, and also compared outcomes of the treatment groups to one another.
- The stipend treatment group had significantly lower rates of working in carpet weaving than the control group at the end of the school year, but no significant differences were found 16 months after the intervention ended.
- The study did not find significant differences between the stipend treatment group and the control group in hours working in carpet weaving at the end of the school year or 16 months after the intervention ended.
Education (School participation/enrollment)
- Children in the stipend treatment group had significantly higher school attendance at the end of the school year compared to the control group; however, no significant differences were found 16 months after the intervention ended.
- The study did not find significant differences between the stipend treatment group and the control group in the rates of school enrollment at the end of the school year or 16 months after the intervention ended.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
Since students’ receipt of the stipend was contingent on school attendance, the outcome of student attendance may affect the level of treatment received in the stipend condition.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high because it was based on a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Schooling Incentives Project Stipend, and not to other factors.
ICF International. (2012). The schooling incentives project evaluation. Research project on children working in the carpet industry in India, Nepal and Pakistan. Calverton, MD: Author.