Child Domestic Work in Ethiopia: An Empirical Investigation

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Addis Ababa University


Ethiopia is one of the countries with high incidence of child labour. The work participation rate of children is one of the highest in the world. More often than not, children start participating in work activities at a very young age and spend longer hours on various housekeeping and/or productive activities suggesting the high extent of child labour in the county. Pertinent to the issue of child labour in Ethiopia, existing literature has focused on the analysis of the work participation decision of children. In addition, the focus has been on child work in general and not on a specific child work activity. The objective of this study is to investigate the determinants of child domestic work hours by children in the 4-14 Age Category. Included in the definition of child domestic work are such work types as fetching of wood/water, minding of younger siblings, cooking, cleaning, and other work types that are domestic in nature. Two data sets - the 4th Round Ethiopian Urban Household Survey and the 5th Round Ethiopian Rural Household survey - are used in this study. Information is used on the actual hours of domestic work as opposed to mere participation of children in domestic chores since what matters most from policy perspective is the extent of child domestic work one measure of which is hours of labour supply. So as to estimate the domestic labour hour equation for a sample of child domestic workers and in an attempt to take care of possible selectivity bias problem, the Heckman sample selection procedure is used. The results from the econometric analysis suggest that both economic and sociological factors are important determinants of child domestic work hours. The main findings of the study, among others, included the existence of a significant and negative association between child domestic work hours and household welfare position (proxied by real expenditure), the level of parental education, the presence of electricity, access to remittance, and ‘current’ school attendance. In addition, female children tend to spend longer hours on domestic chores compared with their male counterparts both in rural and urban areas. Besides, some of the variables (expenditure, land size, and ‘current’ school attendance) affect domestic work hours by male and female children differently suggesting the existence of a gender bias. From policy perspective, measures directed at expanding employment opportunities in urban areas (so as to improve the welfare position of households), allowing rural children have access to schools, provision of formal/informal education to adults in general and to mothers in particular, creation of profitable off-farm employment opportunities for poor rural households, and improving the level of urban electrification are of immense importance in the attempt to improve the welfare of child domestic workers. Furthermore, meaningful attempts should be made to reduce the workload on female child domestic workers both in rural and urban Ethiopia. In this regard, use can be made of the media to raise public awareness about the detrimental impact that long hours of work could have on female child domestic workers.



Child labour, child domestic work, heckman, Ethiopia