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Productive workfare? Evidence from Ethiopia’s productive safety net program

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  • Jules Gazeaud
  • Victor Stephane

Abstract

Despite the popularity of public works programs in developing countries, there is virtually no evidence on the value of the infrastructure they generate. This paper attempts to start filling this gap in the context of the PSNP – a largescale program implemented in Ethiopia since 2005. Under the program, millions of beneficiaries received social transfers conditional on their participation in activities such as land improvements and soil and water conservation measures. We examine the value of these activities using a satellite-based indicator of agricultural productivity and difference-in-differences estimates. The result is a disappointing precise zero, meaning there is no discernible effect of the program on agricultural productivity. This contrasts with existing narratives and calls for a more attentive examination of the benefits typically attributed to public works.

Suggested Citation

  • Jules Gazeaud & Victor Stephane, 2020. "Productive workfare? Evidence from Ethiopia’s productive safety net program," NOVAFRICA Working Paper Series wp2003, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Nova School of Business and Economics, NOVAFRICA.
  • Handle: RePEc:unl:novafr:wp2003
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social protection; public works; cash transfers; Ethiopia; PSNP;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment

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