Food Security

, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp 1273–1289 | Cite as

Does Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program improve child nutrition?

  • Bethelhem Legesse DebelaEmail author
  • Gerald Shively
  • Stein T. Holden
Original Paper


We studied the link between household membership in Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) and short-run nutrition outcomes among children aged 5 years and younger. We used 2006 and 2010 survey data from Northern Ethiopia to estimate parameters of an exogenous switching regression. This allowed us to measure the differential impacts of household characteristics on the weight-for-height Z-scores of children in member and non-member households. The magnitude and significance of household covariates differed in samples of children from PSNP and non-PSNP households and the supply of female labour seemed to matter for promoting child health in member households. Controlling for a set of observable features of children and households we found that children in member households had weight-for-height Z-scores that were 0.55 points higher than those of children in non-member households. We conclude that the PSNP is providing positive short-term nutritional benefits for children, especially in those households that are able to leverage underemployed female labor.


Anthropometry Ethiopia Food security Nutrition Safety net 

JEL codes

I15 I38 



Funding was provided by the NOMA program (NORAD’s Program for Master Studies) under the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). We thank Hosaena Gehebru and NOMA MSc students (2011) for help with data collection, cleaning and entry. Shively acknowledges support provided by the Feed the Future Nutrition Innovation Lab, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsoring agencies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and International Society for Plant Pathology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bethelhem Legesse Debela
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gerald Shively
    • 1
    • 2
  • Stein T. Holden
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Economics and BusinessNorwegian University of Life SciencesÅsNorway
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural EconomicsPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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