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How children's schooling and work are affected when their father leaves permanently: evidence from Colombia

  • Emla Fitzsimons


    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institute of Education, University of London)

  • Alice Mesnard


    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and City University London)

Registered author(s):

    This paper investigates how the permanent departure of the father from the household affects children's school enrolment and work participation in rural Colombia. Our results show that departure of the father decreases children's school enrolment by around 4 percentage points, and increases child labour by 3 percentage points. After using household fixed effects to deal with time-invariant unobserved heterogeneity, and providing evidence suggesting strongly that estimates are not biased by time varying unobserved heterogeneity, we also exploit an interesting feature of our setting, a conditional cash transfer programme in place, and show that it counteracts the adverse effects. This, and other pieces of evidence we give, strongly suggests that the channel through which departure affects children is through reducing income. It also highlights the important safety net role played by such welfare programmes, in particular for very disadvantaged households, who are unlikely to find formal or informal ways of insuring themselves against such vagaries.

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    Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W12/04.

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    Date of creation: 08 Mar 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:12/04
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    1. Seth Richard Gitter & Bradford Barham, 2009. "Conditional Cash Transfers, Shocks, and School Enrolment in Nicaragua," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(10), pages 1747-1767.
    2. L.Guarcello & F.Mealli & F.Rosati, 2002. "Household Vulnerability and Child Labour: the Effect of Shocks, Credit Rationing and Insurance," UCW Working Paper 3, Understanding Children's Work (UCW Programme).
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    4. de Janvry, Alain & Finan, Frederico & Sadoulet, Elisabeth & Vakis, Renos, 2006. "Can conditional cash transfer programs serve as safety nets in keeping children at school and from working when exposed to shocks?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 349-373, April.
    5. Edmonds, Eric V., 2006. "Child labor and schooling responses to anticipated income in South Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 386-414, December.
    6. Seth Gitter & James Manley & Brad Barham, 2011. "The Coffee Crisis, Early Childhood Development, and Conditional Cash Transfers," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 37898, Inter-American Development Bank.
    7. Attanasio, Orazio & Fitzsimons, Emla & Gomez, Ana & Lopez, Diana & Meghir, Costas & Mesnard, Alice, 2006. "Child Education and Work Choices in the Presence of a Conditional Cash Transfer Programme in Rural Colombia," CEPR Discussion Papers 5792, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Duryea, Suzanne & Lam, David & Levison, Deborah, 2007. "Effects of economic shocks on children's employment and schooling in Brazil," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 188-214, September.
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    12. Yamano, Takashi & Jayne, Thom S., 2004. "Working-Age Adult Mortality and Primary School Attendance in Rural Kenya," Working Papers 202631, Egerton University, Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development.
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    15. Ravallion, Martin & Wodon, Quentin, 1999. "Does child labor displace schooling? - evidence on behavioral responses to an enrollment subsidy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2116, The World Bank.
    16. Stefan Dercon & Kathleen Beegle, 2007. "Orphanhood and the long-run impact on children," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2007-08, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    17. Gordon B. Dahl & Enrico Moretti, 2008. "The Demand for Sons," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1085-1120.
    18. Flore Gubert & Anne-Sophie Robilliard, 2008. "Risk and Schooling Decisions in Rural Madagascar: A Panel Data-Analysis," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 17(2), pages 207-238, March.
    19. van de Walle, Dominique, 2011. "Lasting welfare effects of widowhood in a poor country," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5734, The World Bank.
    20. Bell, Clive & Bruhns, Ramona & Gersbach, Hans, 2006. "Economic growth, education, and AIDS in Kenya : a long-run analysis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4025, The World Bank.
    21. Jonathan Gruber, 2004. "Is Making Divorce Easier Bad for Children? The Long-Run Implications of Unilateral Divorce," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(4), pages 799-834, October.
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