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Smarter through social protection? Evaluating the impact of Ethiopia’s safety-net on child cognitive abilities

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2/01/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Oxford Development Studies
Issue number1
Volume47
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)79-96
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Ethiopia’s productive safety net is the second largest Social Protection Program in sub-Saharan Africa and has been rolled out to almost 10 million beneficiaries since 2005; its effects are therefore of general interest. We provide the first estimates of its impact on children’s cognitive abilities. To identify impacts of this program, we exploit four rounds of data on a cohort of children surveyed repeatedly between 2002 and 2013. We find a small but significant positive effect of the programme on both numeracy skills and vocabulary. This is driven mainly by children in households that had graduated (left) the programme just before 2013. We argue that this is at least partially related to time allocation: graduates of the programme spent more time in school than continuing beneficiaries. We also find evidence that the maths (though not language) improvement is more pronounced for boys.