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The European Journal of Development Research

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 600–620 | Cite as

Know Your Place: Ethiopian Children’s Contributions to the Household Economy

  • Karin Heissler
  • Catherine Porter
Original Article

Abstract

Analysis of quantitative and qualitative data of a pro-poor sample of Ethiopian children provides a more nuanced understanding of the role of children in the household economy. Children’s work is largely shaped by age and gender; however, our results reveal considerable flexibility within these same structures according to household composition, birth order and sibling composition. We find that exceptions (whereby girls or boys are undertaking work normally associated with the other sex or another household member) are affected by household composition, but driven by intergenerational interdependence. Further, these exceptions are not random; children’s work is affected less by poverty than by dynamic household circumstances. Given changes in the composition of poor households and absence of adequate social safety nets in a context of high risk and uncertainty, interdependence serves as a protective mechanism for poor households.

Keywords

Ethiopia children’s work interdependence gender intra-household distribution household economy 

Abstract

Une analyse de données quantitatives et qualitatives sur un échantillon d’enfants éthiopiens vivant dans la pauvreté permet une compréhension plus nuancée du rôle de ces derniers dans l’économie des ménages. Le travail des enfants est, cependant, largement fonction de l’âge et du sexe; nos résultats révèlent, en effet, une flexibilité considérable dans ces rôles en fonction de la composition du ménage, du rang de naissance et de la composition de la fratrie. Nous constatons que les exceptions (dans lesquelles les filles ou les garçons exercent un travail normalement réservé à l’autre sexe ou à un autre membre du ménage) sont influencées par la composition du ménage, mais qu’elles résultent principalement de l’interdépendance entre les générations. En outre, ces exceptions ne sont pas aléatoires; le travail des enfants dépend moins de la pauvreté que des circonstances dans lesquelles les ménages évoluent. Compte tenu des changements dans la composition des ménages pauvres et de l’absence de protection sociale adéquate, dans un contexte d’incertitude et de risque élevé, cette interdépendance constitue un mécanisme protecteur pour les ménages pauvres.

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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karin Heissler
    • 1
  • Catherine Porter
    • 2
  1. 1.UNICEF – Child Protection SectionNew York
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of OxfordUK

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