Child sponsorship: Does it actually work?

Compassion - girls on swingI’m passionate about the work of Compassion, that’s why I’m a child advocate for them, but does international child sponsorship work? What are the hard facts?

Here is a short excerpt from a post on the Compassion website reporting on some research recently undertaken:

In 2008, Dr. Bruce Wydick, a professor of Economics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, along with two colleagues, set out to explore the impact of international child sponsorship.

Billions of dollars (approx. 3.2 billion according to their research) go into child sponsorship programmes every year. Over nine million children around the world are enrolled in some sort of child sponsorship programme. But, until now, almost no one has published any independent, empirical research to show whether child sponsorship is actually successful in the fight against poverty. In the document, researchers wrote: “Given the number of individuals involved in child sponsorship relationship and the billions of dollars committed to them, it is surprising that almost no research exists that evaluates the impacts of these programmes.”

Realizing that almost no such research had ever been previously published, Wydick envisioned a comparative look at several child sponsorship organizations. However, only one child sponsorship organization accepted the invitation to participate in the study: Compassion International. So, rather than comparing sponsorship programmes of separate organizations, Wydick’s research team instead focused exclusively on researching adult life outcomes of Compassion’s formerly sponsored children against those who were not part of the ministry’s programmes.

The research focused on six nations (Bolivia, Guatemala, India, Kenya, the Philippines and Uganda) where Compassion provided child sponsorship between 1980 and 1992. That time period was chosen because children enrolled in Compassion’s sponsorship programme during that time frame would be adults by the time the research was conducted between 2008 and 2010. 1,860 formerly sponsored children were interviewed. As control groups, the team also studied non-sponsored siblings, other non-sponsored children in their communities and children in outlying communities where Compassion’s programme wasn’t offered. In all, over ten thousand individuals were interviewed. The objective was to compare the life outcomes of children who were supported through Compassion’s programme to those who were not.

The results, to be published in the April 2013 issue of the prestigious Journal of Political Economy, demonstrates “large and statistically significant positive impacts from child sponsorship on years of completed schooling, primary, secondary and tertiary school completion, and on the probability and quality of adult employment.”

via Compassion UK | Christian Child Sponsorship. Read on for further information and links.

Compassion centre Maasai Mara

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