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Can Conditional Cash Transfers compensate for a father’s absence?

Fitzsimons, E. & Mesnard, A. (2014). Can Conditional Cash Transfers compensate for a father’s absence?. The World Bank Economic Review, Volume(Number), pp. 467-491. doi: 10.1093/wber/lht019


This paper investigates how the departure of the father from the household, that results in his permanent absence, affects children’s school enrollment and work participation in rural Colombia. The results show that departure of the father decreases children’s school enrollment by around 5 percentage points and increases child labor by 3 percentage points. The paper exploits the roll-out of a conditional cash transfer program during the period of study and shows that it counteracts these adverse effects. This, and other pieces of evidence provided, strongly suggests that the channel through which the father’s departure affects children is through reducing the income of very poor households, which is tightening their liquidity constraints. It also highlights the important safety net role played by such welfare programs, in particular for disadvantaged households, which are unlikely to find formal or informal ways of insuring themselves against such vagaries.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Economics
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