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Does International Child Sponsorship Work? A Six-Country Study of Impacts on Adult Life Outcomes

A new study published in the Journal of Political Economy shows international child sponsorship to result in markedly higher rates of schooling completion and substantially improved adult employment outcomes. International child sponsorship is one of the leading forms of direct aid from households in wealthy countries to needy children in developing countries, where an estimated 9.14 million children are currently supported through formal international sponsorship organizations. This paper presents results from a six-country impact study of Compassion International, a leading child sponsorship organization, in which first-hand household survey data is obtained from 10,144 individuals in Uganda, Guatemala, the Philippines, India, Kenya, and Bolivia. To identify program effects, an age-eligibility rule was utilized as the program was being introduced into villages in those countries. The study finds large and statistically significant impacts from child sponsorship on years of completed schooling, primary, secondary, and tertiary school completion, and on the probability and quality of adult employment. It summarizes early evidence which suggests that these impacts may be due in part to programming that raises the aspirations and self-expectations of impoverished children.

Published 2013-06-06