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Is child work detrimental to the educational achievement of children? results from young lives study in Ethiopia

Tassew Woldehanna
Aregawi Gebremedhin
Mesele W. Araya


The objective of this study was to explore the effect of child work on educational achievement as measured by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT). Identifying the causal effects of child work on education is made difficult because the choice of work and/or schooling is made simultaneously and may be determined by the same potentially unobserved factors. Therefore, both Ordinary Least Square (OLS) and Instrumental Variable (IV) estimation methods were used to identify the effect of child work on educational achievement. We used dummy variables for drought, crop failure and pests and diseases, for increases in the prices of food, and for urban locality as instruments which are highly, though not directly, correlated with achievement in education. The results obtained showed that child work had a negative effect on child achievement in education. Numerically, an increase in the number of hours worked per day by one resulted in a reduction in the PPVT score of a child by 6.2 percent. Therefore, it is important to design mechanisms that enable households to withstand income shocks without resorting to child work. The Government of Ethiopia might need to consider implementing a programme that provides financial incentives to households to send their children to school regularly, thus potentially increasing their educational achievement.

Key words: child work, educational achievement, PPVT, Young Lives, Ethiopia; Child labor- Ethiopia; Education- Ethiopia

JEL Codes: J22, D63, I38 & C30

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eISSN: 1993-3681