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Can Unconditional In-Kind Transfers Keep Children Out of Work and in School? Evidence from Indonesia

  • Danusha Jayawardana EMAIL logo , Nadezhda V. Baryshnikova and Ngoc Thien Anh Pham


Child labour is a global issue which creates a need for evidence-based interventions such as cash and in-kind transfers. However, there is limited evidence about the effect of in-kind transfers on child labour, impeding policy development. We address this gap by examining the impacts of an unconditional in-kind transfer, a nation-wide subsidised rice program, on child labour and schooling using longitudinal household survey data from Indonesia. To identify the causal effect, we use coarsened exact matching with difference-in-differences estimator. The results indicate that the program is effective in decreasing the probability of working for boys though it does not have a significant impact on the probability of schooling. However, as an unconditional in-kind transfer, its ability to decrease child work for boys, especially of those who are both working and attending school, provides an important policy implication on how a food subsidy program can indirectly influence child wellbeing.

JEL classification: J82; I21; I38

Corresponding author: Danusha Jayawardana, Centre for the Business and Economics of Health, The University of Queensland, Saint Lucia, Australia, E-mail:


We thank Terence Cheng, Mandar Oak, Umair Khalil, Giulio Zanella, Nicholas Sim, Firmin Doko Tchatoka, Benedikt Heid, Gareth Myles and participants at the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) conference 2019 for useful suggestions and comments. This paper was written as part of Danusha Jayawardana’s PhD research at the University of Adelaide, Australia. The Indonesia Family Life Survey (IFLS) data are proprietary of RAND Corporation and are publicly available at


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Supplementary Material

The online version of this article offers supplementary material (

Received: 2020-12-24
Revised: 2021-05-17
Accepted: 2021-06-08
Published Online: 2021-06-23

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