The first-ever study into international child sponsorship has found that it does transform lives and reduce poverty.

Independent researchers conducted an in-depth study of Christian charity Compassion’s child sponsorship programme. They concluded that sponsorship has large and statistically significant impacts on the educational, employment and leadership outcomes of the children.

The research, conducted by Professor Bruce Wydick of the University of San Francisco, was peer-reviewed and published in the April issue of the Journal of Political Economy ? one of the most prestigious economics journals in the world.

Every year, $3.2bn goes into child sponsorship programmes, and more than 9 million children around the world are enrolled in some sort of programme.

The research focused on six nations (Bolivia, Guatemala, India, Kenya, the Philippines and Uganda) where Compassion provided child sponsorship between 1980 and 1992, and 1,860 formerly sponsored children were interviewed. 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, more than 10,000 individuals were interviewed.

Justin Dowds, Compassion UK’s corporate, community and events director, told Christianity magazine, ‘We are delighted that Dr Wydick’s research proves what we have always known: Compassion’s long-term child development model works.

‘Compassion’s sponsorship strategically meets the needs of each individual child, and as our work is grounded within the context of their family and community life, the benefits are far-reaching.’

According to the study, former sponsored children:

Stay in school longer than their non-sponsored peers. The sponsored children stayed in school 1 to 1.5 years longer than their non-sponsored peers. Former Compassion sponsored children were 27 to 40% more likely to finish secondary education than those who were not enrolled in the child sponsorship programme.

Were more likely to have salaried/ white-collar jobs than their non-sponsored peers.

Were more likely to be leaders in their communities and churches. They were 40 to 70% more likely to become church leaders as adults than their non-sponsored peers.

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