Keeping Refugee Children in School and Out of Work: Evidence from the World's Largest Humanitarian Cash Transfer Program

81 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2021

See all articles by Aysun Hızıroğlu Aygün

Aysun Hızıroğlu Aygün

Istanbul Technical University

Murat G. Kïrdar

Middle East Technical University (METU) - Department of Economics; Bogazici University - Department of Economics

Murat Koyuncu

Bogazici University - Department of Economics

Quentin Stoeffler

Istanbul Technical University

Abstract

This paper investigates whether unconditional cash transfers can keep refugee children in school and out of work. We raise this question in the unique context of Turkey, which hosts the world's largest refugee population (including 3.6 million Syrians). Refugees in Turkey are supported by the world's largest cash transfer program for refugees, the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN). We exploit a program eligibility criterion to identify the causal impacts of the ESSN program using a regression discontinuity design. The results show a large effect on child labor and school enrollment among both male and female refugee children. Being a beneficiary household reduces the fraction of children working from 14.0 percent to 1.6 percent (a decrease of 88 percent) and the fraction of children aged 6–17 not in school from 36.2 to 13.7 percent (a reduction of 62 percent). By unpacking the mechanisms at play, we show that ESSN cash transfers become a significant part of a household's income, substantially alleviate extreme poverty, and reduce a family's need to resort to harmful coping strategies. Investigating the reasons for children not attending school, we find that the beneficiary households become more likely to send children to school because the cash transfer addresses both the opportunity cost and direct cost of schooling— although the former is more important. The findings have important implications for the design of policies aimed at supporting refugee children at scale.

JEL Classification: F22, I21, I28, I38, J21, O15, O22

Suggested Citation

Hızıroğlu Aygün, Aysun and Kirdar, Murat G. and Koyuncu, Murat and Stoeffler, Quentin, Keeping Refugee Children in School and Out of Work: Evidence from the World's Largest Humanitarian Cash Transfer Program. IZA Discussion Paper No. 14513, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3879361 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3879361

Aysun Hızıroğlu Aygün (Contact Author)

Istanbul Technical University

Ayazaga Kampusu
Fen Edebiyat Fakultesi
İstanbul
Turkey

Murat G. Kirdar

Middle East Technical University (METU) - Department of Economics ( email )

Inonu Bulvari
Ankara
Turkey

Bogazici University - Department of Economics ( email )

Natuk Birkan Building
Bebek
Istanbul, 34342
Turkey

Murat Koyuncu

Bogazici University - Department of Economics ( email )

Natuk Birkan Building
Bebek
Istanbul, 34342
Turkey

Quentin Stoeffler

Istanbul Technical University ( email )

Maçka
Istanbul
Turkey

HOME PAGE: http://q.stoeffler.org

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