Is Child Work Detrimental to the Educational Achievement of Children? Results from Young Lives Study in Ethiopia

Ethiopian Economics Association (EEA)
Aregawi Gebremedhin, Mesele W. Araya, Tassew W/Hanna


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.