How Fair is Workfare? Gender, Public Works, and Employment in Rural Ethiopia

67 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2005

See all articles by Agnes R. Quisumbing

Agnes R. Quisumbing

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Yisehac Yohannes

International Food Policy Research Institute

Date Written: May 2004

Abstract

Quisumbing and Yohannes use the Ethiopian Rural Household Survey to examine the gender dimensions of public works. They use three rounds of a panel conducted in 1994-95 to explore the determinants of participation in, days worked, wages, and earnings from wage labor, food-for-work (FFW), and self-employment. Then they analyze public works data collected in 1997, together with program data collected in 2003.

FFW operates in a similar fashion with other labor markets in Ethiopia where female participation is low. Gender differences are important in the participation decision, but operate differently in different types of labor markets. Better-educated women are more likely to participate in the wage labor market, while higher livestock holdings diminish participation more for women. Females with more schooling are also more likely to participate in FFW. Men's and women's participation in FFW and self-employment responds differently to household and community shocks. After controlling for selection in which gender plays an important role, gender disadvantages in the wage labor market and FFW are insignificant. Returns to schooling and height are consistently positive in both wage labor and FFW, suggesting returns to human capital investment, even in the low-skill labor markets of rural Ethiopia.

Program characteristics significantly affect participation, with differential effects on men and women. Participation, days worked, wages, and earnings vary according to the type of project. Relative to infrastructure projects, water, social services, and other projects decrease participation probabilities. Distance has a strong negative effect on women's participation relative to men's.

This paper - a product of the Gender Division, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network - is part of a larger effort in the network to integrate gender issues into economic policy.

Suggested Citation

Quisumbing, Agnes R. and Yohannes, Yisehac, How Fair is Workfare? Gender, Public Works, and Employment in Rural Ethiopia (May 2004). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 3492. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=650201

Agnes R. Quisumbing (Contact Author)

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

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

Yisehac Yohannes

International Food Policy Research Institute ( email )

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

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