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Working Paper

Public Works as a Productive Safety Net in a Post-Conflict Setting : Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Sierra Leone

HOUSEHOLD INCOMES COMMUNITIES SOCIAL COHESION DURABLE GOODS SAFETY NET CHILD LABOR SOCIAL SAFETY NETS INCOME HOUSEHOLD CONSUMPTION FUTURE EARNINGS ATTENDANCE RATES SERVICES FINANCIAL CRISES SAVINGS GROUPS FOOD POLICY WELFARE GOVERNMENT CAPACITY HEALTH IN‐KIND PAYMENTS PROJECTS PROJECT PRODUCTIVE ASSETS IN‐KIND PAYMENTS IN‐KIND TRANSFERS INCOME SUPPORT CASH TRANSFER SELF‐ TARGETING INTERHOUSEHOLD TRANSFERS WAGE RATE CONFLICT BENEFICIARIES HEALTH FACILITIES SOCIAL ACTION INTERNATIONAL FOOD POLICY SAFETY NETS POVERTY REDUCTION HOUSEHOLD INCOME PUBLIC‐WORKS COVARIATE SHOCKS ANTIPOVERTY PROGRAMS LABOR MARKET HEALTH FACILITY HEALTH FACILITY SAVINGS BENEFICIARY IN‐KIND TRANSFERS HOUSEHOLD INCOMES INTERVENTION ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS SOCIAL PROTECTION EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE CASH INTERVENTIONS TRANSFERS MARKETS FINANCIAL CRISES HOUSEHOLD INCOME ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA HOUSEHOLD SURVEYS SOCIAL PROTECTION SCHOOL ENROLLMENTS ANTIPOVERTY PROGRAMS HOUSEHOLD WELFARE CASH TRANSFERS COVARIATE SHOCKS ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS ANTIPOVERTY INSTRUMENTS DESIGN LABOR MARKET TRANSFER PROGRAM HEALTH FACILITIES HOUSEHOLD LEVEL SOCIAL SAFETY NETS FOOD SECURITY LEAN SEASON LABOR MARKET PROGRAMS COST‐ EFFECTIVENESS SCHOOL ATTENDANCE PARTICIPATION DESCRIPTION VILLAGE‐LEVEL COST‐EFFECTIVENESS INCOME SHOCKS GENDER CASH PAYMENTS CASH TRANSFERS HOMES PUBLIC WORKS HOUSEHOLD‐LEVEL HYGIENE OCCUPATION SAFETY NET TRANSITION COUNTRIES URBAN AREAS CASH TRANSFER HOUSEHOLD POVERTY RELIEF SCHOOL ENROLLMENTS FOOD EXPENDITURE PRODUCTIVE ASSETS SOCIAL ACTION YOUTH INTERHOUSEHOLD TRANSFERS CONDITIONAL CASH INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY WAGE RATE LABOR MARKETS TRANSFER AMOUNT MARKET PUBLIC WORKS INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS IDIOSYNCRATIC SHOCKS TRANSFER PROGRAM ANTIPOVERTY INSTRUMENTS INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE FOOD INSECURITY TARGETING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WORKS PROGRAM URBAN AREAS SAVINGS GROUPS POVERTY RELIEF RURAL AREAS TEMPORARY JOBS IDIOSYNCRATIC SHOCKS WORK PROGRAM SAFETY NETS NATIONAL COVERAGE HOUSEHOLDS ACCESS TO SERVICES ROAD REHABILITATION RURAL AREAS POVERTY NUMBER OF CHILDREN HEALTH SERVICES ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ACCESS TO SERVICES INTERNATIONAL FOOD POLICY CONDITIONAL CASH SELF‐TARGETING HOUSEHOLD CONSUMPTION SOCIAL COHESION FACILITIES WORKS PROGRAM MARKET WAGE FOOD SECURITY TRANSITION COUNTRIES CHILD LABOR HOUSEHOLD WELFARE INTERVENTIONS POOR COMMUNITY TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT LABOR MARKETS TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT SAFETY FEMALE HEALTH SERVICES MARKET WAGE COMMUNITY INFRASTRUCTURE
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World Bank, Washington, DC
Africa | Sierra Leone
2016-03-09T22:35:03Z | 2016-03-09T22:35:03Z | 2016-02

This paper examines the short-term impacts of a labor-intensive public works program on household welfare and economic prospects. Using a community-level randomized control trial approach, the paper finds that the public works program targeted at youth in Sierra Leone successfully provided temporary employment to youth characterized by low educational attainment. Cash income among program participants increased by nearly three times relative to the control counterparts, and treatment households experienced a 29 percent rise in monthly income. There is also evidence of significant re-optimization of household labor allocation and expenditure in response to program participation. First, there is an overall crowding-in of labor force participation by household members beyond program participation. Second, the extra income is spent partly to improve the quality of life and partly to secure future earnings. The treated households raised spending on food, medicines, and assets. They also expanded utilization of health services. Meanwhile, the consumption of temptation goods was greater, albeit by a small amount, and the rate of absenteeism among students was higher. To secure future earnings, the treated households set up new businesses: they were nearly four times more likely than the control households to set up new household enterprises. They also boosted their participation in informal savings groups and their investments in their homes and existing businesses. These results demonstrate that public works interventions have considerable potential as productive safety nets in post-conflict settings such as Sierra Leone. They can provide immediate income support, but also open avenues for investment in the productive capacity of poor households.

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