More than a safety net: Ethiopia’s flagship public works program increases tree cover

80 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2021 Last revised: 5 May 2022

See all articles by Kalle Hirvonen

Kalle Hirvonen

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Elia Machado

Dept. of Earth, Environmental, and Geospatial Sciences, City University of New York

Andrew Simons

Fordham University - Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Vis Taraz

Smith College

Date Written: April 27, 2022

Abstract

More than one billion people worldwide receive cash or in-kind transfers from social assistance programs. In low-income countries, these transfers are often conditioned on participation in labor-intensive public works to rehabilitate local infrastructure or natural resources. Despite their popularity, the environmental impacts of public works programs remain largely undocumented. We quantify the impact on tree cover of Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP), one of the world’s largest and longest-running public works programs, using satellite-based data of tree cover combined with difference-in-differences and inverse probability treatment weighting methodologies. We find that the PSNP increased tree cover by 3.8% between 2005 and 2019, with larger increases in less densely populated areas and on steep-sloped terrain. As increasing tree cover is considered an important strategy to limit global warming, our results suggest a win-win potential for social safety net programs with an environmental component.

Keywords: tree cover, public works, difference-in-difference

JEL Classification: Q23, Q54, O12

Suggested Citation

Hirvonen, Kalle and Machado, Elia and Simons, Andrew and Taraz, Vis, More than a safety net: Ethiopia’s flagship public works program increases tree cover (April 27, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3791624 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3791624

Kalle Hirvonen

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Elia Machado

Dept. of Earth, Environmental, and Geospatial Sciences, City University of New York ( email )

Bronx, NY 10468
United States

Andrew Simons

Fordham University - Graduate School of Arts & Sciences ( email )

441 E. Fordham Rd.
Bronx, NY 10458
United States

Vis Taraz (Contact Author)

Smith College ( email )

Northampton, MA 01063
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.smith.edu/academics/faculty/vis-taraz

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