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CCT dole-outs not enough to curb child labor–study

The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) dole-outs extended to poor Filipino families nationwide are not enough to reduce child labor in the Philippines, according to a study authored by Senior Research Fellows at the state-owned think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

In the study, titled “Does Pantawid foster dependence or encourage work? Evidence from a randomized experiment,” PIDS Senior Research Fellow Anicento Orbeta and visiting Senior Research Fellow Vicente Paqueo said that while child labor work hours declined, CCT was not enough to reduce, much more eliminate, child labor.

“The results show that Pantawid reduced the number young elementary school-aged children are spending working for pay but it did not make a significant impact on the incidence on child labor. This is perhaps because the beneficiaries did not find the cash grant substantial enough to substitute for earnings from child labor except for young children who are not earning much anyway,” the authors said.

The authors grouped children by sex and by age groups. The study included children aged 6 to 11 years old to represent elementary pupils that are covered by the program; those aged 12 to 14 who are in high school but are still covered by the program; and those aged 15 to 17 representing the rest of the school-aged children.

The study looked at the incidence of working for pay and the number of work hours that children had to put in to receive pay. The study also showed different outcomes for treatment households or those with the program for nearly two years at the time of the enumeration and control households who do not fall under this category.

The results showed that about 8 percent of children aged 6 to 17 in the treatment group and 7 percent in the control group are working for pay. The incidence is higher for male children at 11 percent for treatment households and 10 percent for control.

The study stated that only 2 percent of children in the elementary grades or those aged 6 to 11 years old are working for pay. This, however, rises to 12 percent for the treatment group and 9 percent for the control group of children 12 to 14 years old.

Further, the results showed that this is higher at 18 percent for the treatment group and 16 percent for the control group are working for children aged 15 to 17 years old.

“It is noteworthy that in terms of incidence of child labor there is no significant difference between children in the treatment group and those in the control group. This indicates that 4Ps have not induced significant number of household to keep their children out of the labor force,” the study said.

The study also stated that one of the positive outcomes of the CCT is that it increased the drive of households and household heads to work. This was true for adult members aged 18 years and above and middle-aged workers, 35 to 54 years old.

This is contrary to the belief that the CCTs could make recipients dependent on the assistance and not force them to earn a living.

Data showed that around 11 percent of the 18 to 34 years olds who are employed in the treatment group are looking for additional work and 7 percent in the control group. Further, 29 percent of the unemployed in treatment households are looking for jobs and 28 percent in the control group.

In the 35 to 54 years old age group showed that 17 percent of the currently employed in the treatment group are looking for additional work and 12 percent in the control group.

Further, about 11 percent of the unemployed in the treatment group are looking for jobs and 21 percent are doing the same in the control group.

For the older members of the households or those aged 55 to 64 years old, data showed 12 percent of the employed in the treatment group are looking for additional work and some 8 percent are doing the same in the control group.

The study also said that in the age group, around 17 percent of the unemployed in the treatment group are looking for jobs, while 40 percent are doing the same in the control group.

“These results indicate that the program did not generate disincentives for work among adult members of the household. This is consistent with results from other CCT programs reviewed recently,” the study said.

“But what is even more noteworthy is that there is even evidence that the program has created more drive for work for both the household head and his female spouse, for all adult members 18 years and above and for middle-aged workers 35 to 54 years,” it added.

Under the CCT program, a poor family with five children aged zero to 14 can receive up to P1,400 per month. This includes a monthly stipend of P500 for health expenses and P300 for education expenses each of a maximum of three children.

To date, the Department of Social Welfare and Development has extended the coverage of the program to 3.9 million households. This is only 1.3 millon short of the government’s 5.2-million household target by 2016.

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