Chapter 4. Specific policies for the most vulnerable youth

This chapter focuses on vulnerable youth at risk of becoming NEET or of working in subsistence employment. Early school leavers, young women and youth with a disadvantaged background face particularly high risks of being left behind in the labour market. The chapter complements the policy recommendations identified in the previous Chapters by developing a set of specific recommendations to help improve the inclusion of these three groups. The challenges addressed range from increasing the enrolment and learning performance of students of disadvantaged background, to boosting the labour and social inclusion of young women and youth from ethno-linguistic minorities.



Exposure to economic risks, such as food and income insecurity or job loss, constitutes a major source of economic vulnerability and ill-being (Boarini, Kolev and McGregor, 2014). The NEETs typically suffer from economic vulnerability. But so do young people of strongly disadvantaged background who have to engage in subsistence employment to survive. Close to 40% of Peruvian youth are vulnerable -- 39% in 2016. For the purpose of the present Chapter, this figure is defined as the sum between the level of the NEET (22%) and the percentage share of the individuals in subsistence employment (17%) -- this latter obtained as (i) youth working in the informal sector and (ii) earning an annual salary below the median annual salary earned by Peruvian youth.1

Therefore, only focusing on young NEETs would amount to excluding from the analysis a substantial part of young people at high risk of vulnerability and largely composed of very poor individuals. In fact, the relationship between the probability of becoming NEET and their parental income is very ambiguous at lower levels of income. On one hand, poverty increases the probability of being NEET by generating school dropout and thus damaging job prospects. On the other hand, poverty decreases the probability of being NEET by increasing the necessity for individuals to ensure their subsistence once out of school. In extremely poor families, at least those living in areas not completely deprived of economic opportunities, the latter effect may dominate the former. Where this happens, children will be less likely to be NEET and more likely to engage in subsistence employment.

This final chapter of Investing in Youth Peru complements the previous chapters by providing a zoom into the policies for three vulnerable groups of youth: early school leavers, women and indigenous and Afro-Peruvian youth. This analysis is a contribution to the strategic vision of the MTPE, which considers that differentiated policies have an important role to play in order to support the impact of the general policies to strengthen the employability of at risk groups. It points to the following hurdles:

  • Early school leavers

Awareness of the importance to send children to school can be very difficult to acquire for poor families. This reflects a combination of disadvantages, including the lack of access to proper information, poor literacy and numeracy skills of parents and the extra burden induced by a heavy financial resource constraint, which implies that many of these families cannot afford to dispense with their children’s labour in order to meet their ends. Even when they go to school, children of disadvantage background will find it more difficult to meet academic requirements if the surrounding home environment does not provide a supportive ground for their physical, social, emotional and cognitive growth. Undernourished children generally score more poorly than better-nourished children on cognitive tests and complete fewer years of schooling. Unsurprisingly, children of disadvantaged background are more prone to negative self-stereotyping since the perception of a wide economic and social gap to fill creates discouragements and damages performances, which undermines their capacity to perceive themselves as worthy. In the face of these difficulties, the perceived costs of education can be particularly high for children of poor background to surmount exacerbating the exposure of these children to the risk of becoming early school leavers.

Early school leavers are substantially overrepresented among youth of disadvantaged background in Peru. Specifically, young individuals whose parents belong to the poorest 25% are four times more likely to become early school leavers than young individuals whose parents belong to the richest 25%. The resulting wide gap in pupils’ educational outcomes by socioeconomic group points to the critical importance to step up efforts to increase the enrolment and learning performance of students of disadvantaged background in Peru.

  • Women

Young women are nearly twice more likely to be NEETs than young men. This is particularly the case for women with at least one dependent child. This pattern reflects the persistence of traditional gender roles whereby women are expected to bear the brunt of child rearing. Women often have no other choice but to drop out of school in case of teenage pregnancy or to renounce participating in the labour market when they are adults, following the birth of their child. However, the gender gap in NEET rates also prevails among childless women due to the existence of additional barriers that hinder female labour force participation. In particular, violence against women in public transports and related public spaces leads many women to forgo job opportunities, irrespective of their maternal status.

  • Indigenous and Afro-Peruvian youth

Being born to indigenous or Afro-Peruvian parents substantially increases the probability of being raised in a poor household, thereby contributing to a poverty trap that hampers the full development of indigenous and Afro-Peruvian children. Indigenous and Afro-Peruvian youth are disproportionately more likely to leave school early. Moreover, being female in these populations results in multiple specific disadvantages. The probability for indigenous and Afro-Peruvian adolescents to be pregnant is 60% and twice higher than among white and mestizo girls, respectively. In this setting, ensuring that the policies to boost the enrolment and learning of students of disadvantaged background and to strengthen female empowerment devote particular attention to indigenous and Afro-Peruvian populations is a key priority. In addition, supplementary actions must be taken to address specific hurdles. This entails improving the educational attainments and job opportunities of rural indigenous youth. They also require actively combating the discrimination that indigenous and Afro-Peruvian populations endure.

This chapter develops a set of policy recommendations to help remove these obstacles (see Box 4.1).

Box 4.1. Policy recommendations

Early school leavers, women as well as indigenous and Afro-Peruvian youth are at high risk of vulnerability, i.e. to become NEETs or to fall in subsistence employment. To help removing the obstacles that hinder the economic and social inclusion of these three groups, the OECD suggests to:

Continue the efforts to increase the enrolment and learning performance of students of disadvantaged background

  • Improve the perceived benefits of schooling nationwide by scaling up the programme Decidiendo para un futuro mejor (Deciding for a better future) devised by the MineduLAB to inform students about the returns to education.

  • Further decrease the opportunity cost of sending children to school by easing the existing constraints to the payment of conditional cash transfers from the programme Juntos. Notably, this will require potentiating Peru’s branchless banking network, using local agents, typically shopkeepers, as deposit and withdrawal points where customers can recuperate the funding with a debit card.

  • Enhance the quality of early childhood development interventions.

    • For 0- to 2-year-old children, harness the full potential of Cuna Más especially to enhance coverage of disadvantaged children, notably by expanding the staff of care workers, while also providing them with adequate compensations and better career prospects.

    • For children from three years old, evaluate the impact of PRONOEI and Jardines and identify how these interventions could be improved to maximize their effect on Peruvian pre-school children. Addressing the limits revealed by the evaluation of Qali Warma is also critical.

  • Develop key non-cognitive skills, a key of which is conscientiousness, using innovative educational approaches implemented by the MineduLAB. In this context, MineduLAB’s proposal to devise a new mechanism to help students limit procrastination could deserve particular attention.

  • Counter negative self-stereotyping by poor students by notably scaling up the programme !Expande Tu Mente! (Expand your mind!) devised by MineduLAB.

Engage in ambitious policies to tackle the vulnerability of young Peruvian women

  • Actively engage in ambitious policies to tackle the vulnerability of young Peruvian women with a particular emphasis on:

    • Taking actions to encourage willingness to staying in education, including efforts to strengthen the conditionality of the programme Juntos.

    • Generalizing the extended school programme (Jornada Escolar Completa) in urban and rural settings where the commuting time between home and school is sufficiently short to enable such an extension.

    • Organising high-quality school-based sexual education programmes to combat teenage pregnancy.

    • Creating a network of sexual and reproductive health facilities targeted at adolescents that are (i) easy to reach; (ii) youth friendly; and (iii) provide the teenagers with free access to modern contraceptives, in combination with mandatory and effective counselling.

  • Alleviate the motherhood penalty in adulthood by:

    • Continuing efforts to ensure that all mothers benefit from a decent maternity leave.

    • Improving children’s access to early childhood education and care (see above).

  • Ensure women’s safety in public transport and related public spaces by creating a zero tolerance environment to violence against women in these settings.

  • Generate a switch towards greater gender equality by:

    • Taking advantage of the opportunities provided by “edutainment” (the integration of educational messaging with popular entertainment) to decrease domestic violence.

    • Implementing reservation policies to ensure women's political representation, at least at the local level. On top of inducing political measures that better take into account women's policy concerns, these initiatives improve the overall perception of female leader effectiveness (especially among men) and weaken stereotypes about gender roles. They also contribute to raise aspirations and educational attainments for girls, through a role model effect.

    • Strengthening the gender equality component of the 2009 curriculum. This objective requires reinforcing two consensual approaches to female empowerment through school content: the elimination of traditional gender stereotypes and the reduction of gender gaps in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Create a more inclusive environment for indigenous and Afro-Peruvian youth

  • Improve the implementation of the Educación Intercultural Bilingüe (EIB) programme by:

    • Increasing the coverage of EIB in primary schools.

    • Expanding this programme to secondary education in areas where large shares of children enter school with proficiency only in an indigenous language.

    • Creating meal and boarding facilities in bilingual secondary schools to support students at risk of dropout who live far away, in remote rural areas.

    • Developing intercultural bilingual education in city neighbourhoods known to host large shares of rural-to-urban indigenous migrants.

  • Boost job opportunities for rural indigenous youth by implementing a national coordinated strategy to help rural populations engage in new and more profitable entrepreneurial activities, such as, for example, tourism, fish farming, organic farming, flower production, agro-food industries.

  • Combat discrimination against indigenous and Afro-Peruvian youth by:

    • Creating a “MincultLAB”, that would be the equivalent of the MineduLAB in the field of antidiscrimination policies. This would help the Ministry of Culture to tailor better its awareness-raising campaigns to combat negative stereotypes against indigenous and Afro-Peruvian populations.

    • Introducing quotas for Afro-Peruvians in the Beca 18 scholarship programme, as it is already the case for indigenous students from highlands and Amazonian communities. The implementation of quotas for both indigenous and Afro-Peruvian youth in the framework of Beca Doble Oportunidad scholarships, which aim to bring early school leavers back to school, should also be considered.

    • Setting out targets for indigenous and Afro-Peruvian in the activation programmes offered by PES in urban areas, especially those intended for youth.

    • Reaching out to these marginalized populations also requires increasing the share of indigenous and Afro-Peruvian among PES caseworkers. This reflects the fact that it is easier for them to connect with vulnerable individuals of the same ethnic origin. Peru could take advantage of the necessity to recruit and train more PES caseworkers (Chapter 3) to achieve this objective.

4.1. Which socioeconomic characteristics predict economic vulnerability among Peruvian youth?

Figure 4.1 provides the share of NEETs (Panel A) and individuals being in subsistence employment (Panel B) distinguishing by youth categories. Panel C combines these two information by displaying the share of vulnerable youth (defined as being either NEET or in subsistence employment). Consistent with the pattern identified in OECD countries (OECD, 2016a), Panel A shows that early school leavers are significantly more likely to become NEET: nearly one third of early school leavers are NEET, as opposed to one fifth among non-early school leavers. Women also face particularly high risks of becoming NEET, relative to men. In OECD countries, high gender gaps in NEET rates mainly flow from family responsibilities, which fall disproportionately on women. Peru is no exception: Peruvian young women with at least one dependent child are nearly 12 times more likely than young men to become NEETs.

Proxy measures of poverty - i.e., living in a rural area or far from the coastal region and belonging to an ethnic minority - are not all related to an increased risk of being NEET, since poverty concomitantly boosts the need to engage in subsistence employment. Notably, individuals living in rural areas are less likely to be NEET but more likely to fall in subsistence employment than those living in urban areas. This is also the case of youth living in the highlands, as compared to youth living in the coastal region. Similar considerations apply to indigenous youth, identified on the basis of the language learnt in childhood (thus compared to early Spanish speakers), or ethnic self-identification (in this case, indigenous youth is analysed relative to individuals who self-identify as “White” or “Mestizo”). Residing in a rural area, living outside the coastal region, or belonging to an ethnic minority (indigenous or African background) are all associated to an enhanced risk of vulnerability (Panel C).

Figure 4.1. Shares of vulnerable youth in Peru

Note: "NEETs" refers to individuals who are not in employment, education or training. "Individuals in subsistence employment" refers to individuals who (i) work in the informal sector and (ii) earn annual wages below the median annual wage among youth (15-29). "ESL" stands for "early school leaver" and refers to an individual who did not complete compulsory education and is not enrolled in education; "dep. child" refers to "dependent child", that is a child aged between 0 and 14; "Hispanic (language)" refers to individuals who report Spanish as their mother tongue or the language learnt in childhood while "Indigenous (language)" refers to individuals who report Quechua, Aymara or other native language as their mother tongue or the language learnt in childhood; "White/Mestizo (ethnicity)" refers to individuals who identify themselves as white or mestizo, "Black (ethnicity)" refers to individuals who identify themselves as "Black", "Mulat Zambo" or "Afroperuano" and "Indigenous (ethnicity)" refers to individuals who identify themselves as "Quechua", "Aymara" or " Native or Indigenous of the Amazonía".

Source: OECD calculations based on ENAHO 2016.

4.2. Early school leavers

As of 2016, early school leavers -- approximated by the number of individuals who have attained at most secondary education and are not enrolled in education anymore -- equal 17% of Peruvian youth, a percentage share ten points lower than observed in 2007 (Figure 4.2).2 This significant decline reflects Peru’s achievements to open up access to education at all levels, as highlighted by the fact that the share of the population aged 15 and over with no schooling fell from nearly one fifth in 1980 to about 5% in 2010. The most significant progress concerned the share of individuals with completed secondary education, which jumped from around 14% of the adult population (aged 15 years and older) in 1980 to more than 37% in 2010 (OECD, 2015).

Figure 4.2. Share of early school leavers among Peruvian youth (15-29), between 2007 and 2016

Note: Early school leavers are individuals who have attained at most secondary education and are not enrolled in education anymore.

Source: ENAHO 2007 to 2016.

These achievements have a counterpart in the analysis of completion rates in lower secondary education (Figure 4.3). In 2014, 87% of young people aged 3 to 5 years above the intended age for completing lower secondary education had indeed attained this education level. Figure 4.3 also illustrates Peru’s excellent achievements compared to other Latin American countries. Indeed, Peru’s completion rate in lower secondary education is 13 percentage points higher than the average among Latin American countries. Only Chile and Mexico perform better than Peru.

Figure 4.3. Completion rate in lower secondary education in Peru and selected Latin American countries, as of 2014

Note: Completion rate in lower secondary education refers to the share of young people aged 3 to 5 years above the intended age for completing lower secondary education who have attained this education level.

Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

The reasons for dropping out are numerous and complex to analyse in detail. The Peruvian national household survey (ENAHO) identifies three underlying factors explaining out-of-school adolescents aged 13-19:

  • A disadvantaged background, i.e., dropping out due to economic difficulties or, because the respondent “does not want to study”, which can also reflect economic difficulties;

  • Explanations that are more frequent among teenage mothers, i.e., leaving school because of “family problems” and the need to “take care of housework”; and

  • Situations that typically prevail among individuals living in remote areas, such as, for example, the absence of education centres in the respondent’s vicinity.

Figure 4.4 confirms that early school leavers are overrepresented among the groups of youth who most likely combine these set of disadvantages. For example, youth whose parents belong to the bottom 25% of the income distribution are four times more likely to be early school leavers than young individuals whose parents belong to the richest 25%. In addition, teenage parents face a particularly high risk of dropping out. This risk is particularly marked for teenage mothers, as revealed by the fact that more than one third of women who became mothers before 20 left school early, as opposed to one tenth among women who gave birth after 20. Moreover, youth living in rural areas are nearly three times more likely to drop out than youth living in urban settings. Finally, the share of early school leavers is high also among indigenous populations and Afro-Peruvians. A particularly wide ethnic gap characterises the group of Afro-Peruvians with 29% early school leavers, as opposed to 14% among Whites and Mestizos.

Figure 4.4. Share of early school leavers among various categories of youth (15-29), as of 2016

Note: Early school leavers are individuals who have attained at most secondary education and are not enrolled in education anymore. "Hispanic (language)" refers to individuals who report Spanish as their mother tongue or the language learnt in childhood while "Indigenous (language)" refers to individuals who report Quechua, Aymara or other native language as their mother tongue or the language learnt in childhood. "White/Mestizo (ethnicity)" refers to individuals who identify themselves as white or mestizo. "Black (ethnicity)" refers to individuals who identify themselves as "Black", "Mulat Zambo" or "Afroperuano". "Indigenous (ethnicity)" refers to individuals who identify themselves as "Quechua", "Aymara" or "Native or Indigenous of the Amazonía".

Source: OECD calculations based on ENAHO 2016.

The reminder of this section provides a review of the policies for combating the phenomenon of school dropouts among children from disadvantaged background. Attention will be devoted to early intervention mechanisms to encourage parents to keep their children at school. These policies play an important role to reduce risks of child labour. The programmes to stimulate a learning curiosity among children, including early childhood initiatives, will also be discussed since their payoffs can also be important as a way of encouraging children to stay at school later on during their educational career. Other more specific policies for avoiding dropouts due to teenage pregnancy, or the fact of being indigenous, or Afro-Peruvian, will be discussed in the next sections.

Box 4.2. Why are individuals of disadvantaged background overrepresented among early school leavers?

Becker’s canonical model of human capital views education as an investment, where costs are compared to the discounted stream of expected future benefits (Becker, 1964). Empirical evidence confirms that households’ decision to send their children to school largely results from a cost-benefit analysis. The benefits consist in the so-called “returns to education” that indicate by how much individual earnings in the labour market are raised by an additional year of schooling.

As to the costs, the pattern observed in Peru is common to many other countries. Although education is free (at least in public schools and for pupils aged between 5 and 16), the subjective perception of the benefits of school enrolment may vary across households. Due to poor information, deprived households may substantially underestimate the returns to secondary and tertiary schooling (Jensen, 2010). Many poor families cannot afford to dispense with child labour if they are to meet their subsistence needs. Moreover, recent empirical analysis shows that school attendance declines and child labour increases when families undergo difficult economic times (Edmonds, 2005; Beegle, Dehejia, and Gatti, 2009; Bandara, Dehejia, and Lavie-Rouse, 2015).

The cost of learning can be significant for children of underprivileged background. First, poor parents are less likely to be able to provide their children with an environment conducive to cognitive skills development, in particular early in life. This could happen, for example, when financial constraints prevent them from nourishing children properly with undernutrition an important factor hampering neurological development (Maluccio et al., 2009). Additionally, low-income parents typically show poorer literacy and numeracy skills, meaning that their children have a greater gap to fill than children of privileged background in order to meet academic requirements. Furthermore, poor parents may face greater barriers to transmit to their children the personality traits (also referred to as non-cognitive, soft or socioemotional skills) that matter for educational achievements. Finally, children of disadvantaged background are more prone to negative self-stereotyping: awareness of their inferior social status undermines their capacity to perceive themselves as worthy and thus damages their performance. This is the “stereotype threat” effect (Steele and Aronson, 1998) documented in many contexts.

4.2.1. Improving the perceived benefits of schooling nationwide

In 2015 and 2016 MineduLAB (see Chapter 3 for an introduction to MineduLAB) and the NGO Innovation for Poverty Action (IPA) implemented Decidiendo para un futuro mejor (“Deciding for a better future”) a pilot randomized experiment, aimed at informing students about the returns to education. Students of disadvantaged background substantially underestimate the potential benefits of a learning curriculum in Peru, at all educational levels.

Focusing on 1 800 urban public schools (900 in the treatment group and 900 in the control group), this pilot resulted in a significant decrease of the number of dropouts, while at the same time improving the academic achievements of the students who most strongly underestimated the returns to education before being informed of their real value. Replicating this experiment nationwide could be a promising approach to reduce the share of early school leavers among Peruvian youth. This seems even more desirable in light of the fact that the information campaign has proven to be highly cost-effective.

4.2.2. Decreasing the opportunity cost of sending children to school

Free education is a necessary condition to help decreasing the opportunity cost of sending children to school, especially for poor families. However, free education may not be enough since the subjective perception of the benefits of school enrolment may vary across households, as discussed in Box 4.2. To account for this, conditional cash transfers (CCTs) could provide a much-needed incentive, by providing regular transfer benefits to parents of poor background who chose to keep their children at school. Qualifying for such benefits is contingent upon school enrolment, typically associated with an 80-90% attendance obligation. Meta-analysis of 94 studies from 47 CCTs programmes shows that participation boosts school enrolments and attendances, reducing school dropouts. It also reduces the exposure of children to child labour.3

In Peru the programme Juntos, introduced in 2005 and operated by the Ministerio de Desarrollo e Inclusíon Social (MIDIS, Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion), provides a bi-monthly transfer of 200 soles (approximately USD 70) to 660 000 poor women who are either pregnant or have children under 19 years. The transfer is conditional on the mother providing access to education, nutrition, and health services to their children. Experience with Juntos suggests that the access to the benefit may be difficult for some beneficiaries, which possibly discourages enrolments. The state bank, Banco de la Nación, is in charge of opening a savings account for all Juntos beneficiaries. However, while 67% of users collect payments through these accounts, only 18% of users have a bank branch or a cash dispenser in their district. According to IPA, the average recipient of a CCT payment has to travel five hours to get to the nearest point equipped to perform a financial transaction. This implies a disbursement of 10% of the payment in transportation costs.

To enhance the positive impact of Juntos on schooling outcomes, easing mothers’ access to the benefit is a key priority. One currently envisioned option is to potentiate the branchless banking network in Peru. Local agents, typically shopkeepers, would serve as deposit and withdrawal points enabling customers to recuperate the funding with a debit card. This option is under evaluation in partnership with IPA, using a randomized experiment.4

4.2.3. Enhancing the quality of early childhood development

Early childhood development (ECD) provides an unparalleled opportunity to invest in the learning of children and to support their curiosity. It can be instrumental in easing the cognitive skills of children, in particular of disadvantaged background. For example, the Perry Preschool Project, one among the oldest ECD programmes, carried out from 1962 to 1967, provided high-quality preschool education to three- and four-year-old African-American children living in poverty and assessed to be at high risk of school failure. Evaluation of this preschool programme several years later shows substantially better educational attainments and improved labour market outcomes at adult age by those who benefited from the programme (Heckman, Pinto and Savelyev, 2013). Although coverage is not uniform across children at early ages (see section below on womem), Peru’s ECD programmes are already well-identified. This provides a good basis for further improvements going forward, building on the lessons acquired so far.

Children below three years

In 2012, MIDIS created Cuna Más, a large-scale ECD intervention that replaced the former and less comprehensive Wawa Wasi programme.5 Cuna Más aims to support the development of children aged below three years who live in poverty, to improve families’ childrearing and to strengthen attachments between caregivers and children. A day-care service (Servicio de Cuidado Diurno) in marginalized urban areas provides comprehensive care to children between 6 and 36 months. In rural communities, a home visiting service (Servicio de Acompañamiento a Familias) delivers individual weekly visits and monthly group sessions for children under three and their primary caregivers, as well as pregnant women.

Preliminary results from an experimental impact evaluation by the Inter-American Development Bank of the home visiting services provided by Cuna Más (Araujo et al., 2016) points to a robust and positive impact of the programme on children’s cognitive development (problem solving) and language proficiency.6 What is more, this impact is concentrated on kids living in the poorest households.

However, evaluation also suggests a need for further improvements. As of December 2016, the home visiting service reached 85 000 families. Yet, the programme is not reaching out to all the children who meet the criteria for eligibility and there seems to be scope for broadening the range of targeted communities (only 580 out of 713 eligible districts are covered). Additionally, not all children covered by the programme receive home visits of the length and frequency recommended by the Cuna Más guidelines. Finally, the training of home visitors is not always adequate, which compromises their capacity to trigger better maternal and child engagement. Taken together, these findings point to a need to extend coverage capacity, while at the same time strengthening service effectiveness.

Recent analysis by Josephson, Guerrero and Coddington (2017) assesses the pros and cons of the cascade structure of Cuna Más. Such a structure includes community members who are trained by field supervisors to play the role of home visitors (facilitadoras), technical companions (the acompañantes técnicos, ATs) and regional trainers and specialists (the formadores and especialistas) who are in charge of training and mentoring the ATs and are themselves trained by a central team in Lima. Interviews and focus group discussions with 50 Cuna Más staff members from central, regional, and community levels were carried out between October 2016 and January 2017. Results depict a problem of heavy workloads at all levels of the cascade, which generates discouragement and exacerbates turnovers. Addressing these challenges is a key priority to keep the morale of a staff that typically reports a strong level of identification with the objective of improving the lives of vulnerable children.

Strengthening the current structure of incentives should entail ensuring that the monthly compensations of the facilitadoras match that of trainers in other public community-based ECD programmes, such as the PRONOEI pre-school programme, which targets children aged between three and six years (see below). Additionally, given the significant travel required by the work of the field supervisors, each AT should be assigned to a maximum of one community centre. This would allow reducing both travel times and work hours. A small increase in the level of starting salaries for regional trainers and specialists would be a way of recognising their supervisory activities.

As one option to strengthen the participation of hard-to-reach families in the programme, the facilitadoras could receive more training about how to disseminate the benefits of the programme. Partnerships with higher education institutions to accredit the training offered by regional trainers and specialists, as well as ATs, could help further improving the quality of the training provided to Cuna Más staff. In addition, the creation of annual scholarships for outstanding facilitadoras would not only enhance their competencies in the field but also put them on a career perspective. This is important to enable them to become ATs at a later stage.

Pre-schooling for children above three years

There exist two mandatory pre-schooling services in Peru targeting the development of cognitive and non-cognitive skills for children aged between three and five years (General Education Law of 2003). Jardines are formal pre-schools mainly located in densely populated urban areas. Teachers are certified and offer four-to-five hours classes a day, five days each week. The Programas No Escolarizados Educación Inicial (PRONOEI) is a public community-based programme created in the late 1960s for children living in marginalized urban and rural areas not having access to Jardines. PRONOEI’s teachers are mothers from the community who receive training in child development and teaching techniques from a certified teacher hired by the Ministry of Education. PRONOEI operates four hours a day, usually four days a week (the remaining day is devoted to training and preparation).

Assessment of the two programmes reveals that primary school achievements are generally poorer for pupils previously enrolled in PRONOEI compared to Jardines, an outcome influenced by the lower number of class-days provided (Cueto et al., 2016). However, no study has so far exhaustively addressed the critical question as to whether the children who attend PRONOEI or Jardines perform better than those in a counterfactual situation without access to the programmes. Such an impact evaluation would provide useful insights on how to raise the impact of the two programmes -- on the cognitive skills of children but also from the perspective of their capacity to keep children at school later on, throughout their educational career.

4.2.4. Interactions with nutritional objectives

ECD intervention also encompasses nutrition programmes directed at pre-primary and primary school students. In 2012, the Peruvian Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion launched the programme Qali Warma (“strong child” in Quechua language), which aims to provide quality food services to children who attend pre-primary and primary public educational institutions located in poor and extremely poor districts. A focus on the nutritional dimension can also be a key to persuade parents from poor household to keep children at school. Qali Warma delivers two rations of food (breakfast and lunch) to children in extremely poor districts, and one ration (breakfast) to children in poor districts. Food delivery is also associated to educational actions to sensitize children to healthy eating habits. In 2017, the programme reached 3 731 448 children and 63 285 schools.7

Qali Warma report carried out by the Contraloría General De La República (Office of the Comptroller General) highlights several areas for improvements (La Contraloría General de la República, 2017).8 First, most of the educational institutions visited lack a copy of the contract signed between Qali Warma and the food suppliers. This hinders the possibility to check if the quantity and quality of the rations received correspond to those agreed by contract. Second, educational institutions do not have a list of the children targeted by the programme, which prevents keeping track of their number and evaluating beneficial effects. Third, it often happens that the food is delivered late, which disrupts the organisation of classes and damages the proper assimilation of food by the children. Finally, there are concerns regarding the poor nutritional contribution of some foods. Addressing these deficiencies is critical in order to allow Peruvian children reaping the full benefits of Qali Warma.9

4.2.5. Developing key non-cognitive skills

The strategies for raising awareness about the importance of personality traits (also referred to as non-cognitive, soft or socioemotional, skills) in supporting learning and later on the transition to the labour market are also important to keep at-risk students in education. Such traits, often referred to as the “Big Five” -Conscientiousness, Openness to Experience, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism/Emotional Stability - are depicted in Table 4.1.

Consciousness stands out in the empirical evidence as a key trait at all levels of education (Carcillo et al., 2015). For example, conscientious students typically put a stronger and more regular effort into succeeding their studies. In addition, the learning attitude and curiosity shown by these students allow them to appreciate the importance of certain tasks that may considerably enhance the long-term returns of schooling, notwithstanding their relatively low returns in the near term. These traits include, for example, paying attention in class, being organised and avoid procrastination.

Table 4.1. The “Big Five” personality traits and their facets

Personality trait

Facets (and correlated trait adjective)

Related traits


Competence (efficient), Order (organised), Dutifulness (not careless), Achievement striving (ambitious), Self-discipline (not lazy), Deliberation (not impulsive)

Grit Perseverance; Delay of gratification; Impulse control; Achievement striving; Ambition work ethic

Openness to experience

Fantasy (imaginative), Aesthetic (artistic), Feelings (excitable), Actions (wide interests), Ideas (curious), Values (unconventional)


Warmth (friendly), Gregariousness (sociable), Assertiveness (self-confident), Activity (energetic), Excitement seeking (adventurous), Positive emotions (enthusiastic)


Trust (forgiving), Straightforwardness (not demanding), Altruism (warm), Compliance (not stubborn), Modesty (not show-off), Tender-mildness (sympathetic)

Empathy; Perspective taking; Cooperation; Competitiveness

Neuroticism/Emotional Stability

Anxiety (worrying), Hostility (irritable), Depression (not contented), Self-consciousness (shy), Impulsiveness (moody), Vulnerability to stress (not self-confident)

Internal vs. External locus of control; Core self-evaluation; Self-esteem; Self-efficacy; Optimism; Psychopathologies (mental disorders) including depression and anxiety disorders

Source: Almlund et al. (2011), Table 1.3 adapted from John and Srivastava (1999).

In this context, the MineduLAB proposed initiative to devise an innovative intervention to help students combat procrastination through in-class training could deserve attention. If implemented, it might be desirable to complement the in-class component of the training with some out-of-class mentoring. Mentoring can help youth from disadvantaged background filling certain behavioural gaps such as the lack of positive role models at home and of guidance on how to develop socio-emotional skills. The outcomes of the mentoring programme Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) can be relevant in this regards given that this is one of the oldest and largest programmes worldwide in its kind.10 They show that weekly meetings between mentors and mentees over a eighteen-month period can cut school absenteeism by half (Tierney, Grossman and Resch, 2000). They can also lead to a significant strengthening of the youth self-esteem.

Conscientiousness can also lead students to acquire an early familiarity with performance-based incentives, which can be important to qualify for a scholarship, for example (Levitt et al., 2016; Levitt, List and Sadoff, 2016). Through PRONABEC (Programa Nacional de Becas y Crédito Educativo) Peru devotes considerable resources to scholarships and educational loans to talented people from poor backgrounds. In particular, the scholarship programme Beca 18 tailors poor and extremely poor students who have excelled in secondary education (see below Box 4.9). The programme supports their access to higher education and guarantees resources for successful completion and subsequent job preparation (OECD, 2015). As the largest PRONABEC’s programme, Beca 18 grants scholarships to more than 49 000 young people during the 2011-15 period (McCarthy and Musset, 2016; OECD, 2016b).

4.2.6. Scaling up strategies to counter negative self-stereotyping by poor students

Peru should be commended for the initiative !Expande Tu Mente! (Expand your mind!), which was implemented in 2015.11 Taking advantage of a short and cheap-to-implement in-class training (90 minutes), students learned how the brain works as a “muscle”, implying that intelligence is malleable and accordingly can be expanded. The initiative aimed to change students’ perception of their own intelligence and to develop an awareness of the importance of effort, perseverance, achievements and control. The randomized experiment was conducted among 55 000 students enrolled in the second grade of secondary education in 800 public schools in the regions of Áncash, Junín and Lima. The outcomes show a significant increase of the students’ scores in Mathematics and Reading Comprehension, especially in poorer areas located outside Lima (Outes, Sanchez and Vakis, 2017). As one policy option to effectively counter negative self-stereotyping by poor students, Peru could consider scaling up !Expande Tu Mente!.

Other approaches have proven to be helpful to reduce stereotype effects. As an illustration, disadvantaged high school students in the US who had been admitted to two- and four-year colleges were randomly chosen and invited to participate in an online module designed to dissipate the belief that disadvantaged students are the only group that has difficulty in college. One year later, 45% of the students who had participated in the intervention were enrolled full-time in school, compared to 32% of the students from the control group.

4.3. Women

In Peru young women are nearly twice more likely to be NEETs than young men (see above, Figure 4.1). This is particularly the case among women with at least one dependent child. The phenomenon is part of a broader pattern that reflects the persistence of traditional gender biases, whereby women are expected to bear the brunt of child rearing. Women often have no other choice but to drop out of school in case of teenage pregnancy or to renounce participating in the labour market when young adults, following the birth of their child. However, the gender gap in the NEET rate also prevails among childless young women, due to the presence of additional barriers that hinder female labour force participation. In particular, violence against women in public transport and related public spaces leads many women to forgo job opportunities, irrespective of their maternal status (VAWG, 2015).

This section addresses some key aspects of the vulnerability of young Peruvian women. It provides policy recommendations in view of (i) preventing teenage pregnancy; (ii) alleviating the motherhood penalty; (iii) improving women safety in public transport; and, (iv) generating a switch towards greater gender equality.

4.3.1. Preventing teenage pregnancy is a key priority challenge in Peru

Adolescent fertility rates, defined as the number of births per 1 000 women aged between 15 and 19, has been declining worldwide, from 70 per 1 000 in 1980 to 44 per 1 000 in 2015 (data from the United Nations Population Division). Peru is no exception and its rates are very close to the worldwide average. Peru’s fertility rate is also among the lowest in Latin America and performs nearly as well as Chile. This being said, the Peruvian adolescent fertility rate (48 per 1 000) was still four times higher than the OECD average in 2015 (12 per 1 000, Figure 4.5).

Figure 4.5. Adolescent fertility rates in OECD countries, Peru and other Latin American benchmark countries

Note: Adolescent fertility rate refers to the number of births per 1 000 women aged 15-19.

Source: United Nations Population Division, World Population Prospects.

In 2016, about one out of seven Peruvian young women (15-29) had at least one child by the age of 19 (ENAHO 2016). Teenage pregnancy and the child caregiving responsibilities that ensue imply that it is very difficult for women to finish school. Indeed, eight out of ten teenage mothers drop out of school in Peru (INEI, 2015). Moreover, motherhood dramatically hampers mothers’ economic prospects since it precludes them from holding regular jobs, leading to long-lasting negative effects on their participation in the labour market. Women who became mothers before 20 usually report significantly less years of schooling and less work hours than women who delayed childbearing (Arceo-Gomez and Campos-Vazquez, 2014).

Further compounding these detrimental effects, teenage mothers cannot rely on any family supports. As shown by Figure 4.6, Peruvian teenage mothers are overrepresented among adolescents of disadvantaged background (Favara, Lavado and Sanchez, 2016) with a non-negligible share of these mothers being rejected by the family. In 2013, more than 40% of teen mothers reported experiencing physical violence from their mother and their father (INEI, 2015). Finally, although pregnant adolescents have relatively high marriage or partnership rates in the short run, the frequency of splitting is very high. In 2013, only two-thirds of Peruvian teenage mothers were married or cohabitating. The others reported to be single, separated or divorced (INEI, 2015).

Figure 4.6. Share of teenage mothers among various categories of Peruvian female youth, as of 2016

Note: "Hispanic (language)" refers to individuals who report Spanish as their mother tongue or the language learnt in childhood while "Indigenous (language)" refers to individuals who report Quechua, Aymara or other native language as their mother tongue or the language learnt in childhood. "White/Mestizo (ethnicity)" refers to individuals who identify themselves as white or mestizo, "Black (ethnicity)" refers to individuals who identify themselves as "Black", "Mulat Zambo" or "Afroperuano" and "Indigenous (ethnicity)" refers to individuals who identify themselves as "Quechua", "Aymara" or " Native or Indigenous of the Amazonía".

Source: OECD calculations based on ENAHO 2016.

This situation depicts a ground conducive to intergenerational poverty traps. Babies born to women under 20 are more likely to be preterm or to have a low birth weight. As a result, the rate of neonatal mortality is comparatively high for these babies. Further down the road, these children face a higher risk of deviant behaviours when they become adolescents. Using longitudinal data for Peru, Azevedo et al. (2012) find a significant positive effect of adolescent pregnancy on the probability that the child engages in risky behaviours. Moreover, the younger is the mother, the more likely is the risk that the child will report drinking alcohol sometimes or more, or to try marijuana at least once. More importantly, the evidence available points to a strong risk of intergenerational transmission of young motherhood: even after controlling for individual background and family factors, daughters of mothers who were relatively young when they started childbearing are significantly more likely to have their first birth at young ages (e.g. Stanfors and Scott (2013), based on Swedish data).

Reducing adolescent fertility rates in Peru seems all the more critical in light of the fact that only a minority of teenage mothers report having wanted to be mother by the time they became pregnant. The related proportion has been decreasing steadily through the years, down to 32.7% in 2013 from 49% in 1996 (INEI, 2015). These dynamics point to the fact that supporting women will of not becoming pregnant during their adolescence should be a clearly stated policy priority for the Peruvian government. In this context, Peru should be commended for having included the objective of reducing teenage pregnancy by 20% among the six targets of the Peruvian National Action Plan for Childhood and Adolescence (2012-20).12

Investing in girls’ education

The findings of recent analysis for Colombia by Cortés, Gallego and Maldonado (2016), show that CCT programmes can have positive effects on the need to reduce adolescent fertility rates, provided that they are made “conditional enough”. This requires the use of well-stated and enforceable pre-defined criteria to track school success and attendance. Accordingly, strengthening the focus of Juntos on regular attendance, as a criterion for conditionality, may be an effective strategy for Peru to consider. For example, the government could require that students complete the school year and enrol in the following grade in order to continue benefiting of Juntos and/or that the subsidy cannot be recuperated after a too long interruption in the programme.

However, reinforcing the role played by education also requires other means, with extended school-hours programmes and school-based sexual education first candidates. The following sections discuss how Peru could make the most of these additional options.

Extended school-hours programmes

Empirical findings corroborate the presumption that longer school hours play a useful role in limiting the exposure of adolescents to risky behaviours. For instance, Jacob and Lefgren (2003) and Luallen (2006) find that extended school hours significantly reduce the incidence of certain juvenile crimes. Extended school hours can also reduce teenage pregnancy. Work by Berthelon and Kruger (2011) has analysed the effects of the school reform that was launched by Chile in the late 1990s to gradually lengthen school days from half to full-day shifts on certain days of the week. The authors find that the amount of time spent by students in school increased by almost 22% (from 32 to 39 hours per week) and that concomitantly the probability of motherhood lowered for teens living in municipalities with access to full-day high schools.13 This effect concentrated on the population that is typically the target of poverty alleviation programmes, i.e. poor young women.

These results suggest that the extended school programme (Jornada Escolar Completa) launched by the Peruvian Ministry of Education in 2015 represents a policy move in the right direction. The initiative should be generalised to all urban and rural settings where commuting times between home and school are sufficiently short to enable implementation. Particular attention should be paid to the quality of the teaching provided during these extended hours. Options to take advantage of the reform to improve curricula include providing extra academic support, strengthening the focus on the development of non-cognitive skills and on career counselling.

School-based sexuality education programmes

Comprehensive school-based sexuality education programmes (UNESCO, 2018) include two key objectives: (i) to disseminate the message that teenage pregnancy can and must be avoided; and (ii) to provide competent information explaining how to avoid pregnancy. However, programmes can vary in terms of the approaches used implying that discerning those that have proven to be most effective is a key priority.

To convince students that teenage pregnancy is to be avoided, the approach often consists in stressing its long-term costs, i.e. that as a result of child caregiving responsibilities it may be impossible for teenage parents to finish school, which would prevent them from reaping the economic and social returns of acquiring a good education. This is the main objective of the campaign Todo a su tiempo! (All in good time!) that was launched by the Peruvian Ministry of Health following the publication of the National Action Plan for Childhood and Adolescence (2012-2021). However, the short-term costs of teenage pregnancy are also important to stress. As an illustration, in a qualitative study on adolescent fertility in Ecuador, several young parents (both fathers and mothers) emphasized that they ignored the immediate consequences of early parenthood. They underscored the importance of learning more about the burdensome implications of early parenthood at an age when people are usually eager to enjoy life, rather than taking care of children (Azevedo et al., 2012).

With regard to the issue about how pregnancy can be avoided, until now sexuality education programmes in Peru have for the main focussed on abstinence. Accordingly, delaying sexual initiation is the primary objective of these programmes. 14However, the conclusions of a strong body of evidence underscore that “abstinence only” programmes are of very little help to reduce teen pregnancy.15 The role played by the complementary approaches that inform students about the contraceptives that exist is a key in this context.

Another important aspect of school-based sexuality education programmes relates to the question about who should be in charge of delivering the training and to whom. Of essence here is ensuring that both girls and boys feel that they can safely and comfortably raise questions, clarify doubts and address concerns. Creating such a supportive setting requires that the sexuality education programme be delivered by a trained young person who the students can easily identify as a peer, rather than by their regular teachers.

4.3.2. The composition of the audience also matters.

Building on a set of rigorous randomised control trials aimed at reducing teenage pregnancy, the US Department of Health and Human Services finds that school-based interventions tend to be more effective when they target students above 13.16 In addition, the impact appears to be much lower when the gender composition of attending students is mixed, an outcome that reflects the reluctance by many to ask sexuality-related questions in front of the other sex. In this context, it may be preferable to organize at least part of the intervention in subgroups of students of the same gender. Appropriate engagement of the parents, by teaching them how to communicate with their children on avoiding teen pregnancy, is also important. Providing low-threshold, well-informed access to modern contraceptives

The share of Peruvian women of reproductive age (15-49), married or in-union, who use modern contraceptives has more than doubled between 1985 and 2015, reaching 52%. This increase largely reflects the adoption of a national law promulgated in 1985 to guarantee “couples the right to freely determine the number and spacing of their children.” The law recognized all voluntary contraceptive methods except abortion. Subsequently, the first National Family Planning Programme (1987-90), developed by the Ministry of Health, aimed at lowering the average number of births per woman to 2.5 by the year 2000 (an objective that was reached in 2010). In particular, the Ministry of Health coordinated public and private sector family planning efforts while various donors provided technical and financial support. Peru’s second National Family Planning Programme (1991-95) lead to further progress in the use of contraceptives by expanding service delivery in underserved (mostly rural) areas. Starting from 1995, Peru mandated free modern contraceptives for all individuals through government facilities (USAID, 2016).

Figure 4.7. Contraceptive prevalence, 2015 or latest year available
Share of married or in-union women of reproductive age (15-49)

Note: Modern methods include: female sterilisation, male sterilisation, intrauterine device, implant, injections, pill, male condom, female condom, vaginal barrier methods, lactational amenorrhea method, emergency contraception, or other modern methods. Traditional methods include periodic abstinence (rhythm, calendar method) and withdrawal (coitus interruptus). Data refer to 2015 for Mexico and Japan; 2014 for Portugal and Peru; 2013 for United States, Turkey, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Argentina, and Brazil; 2012 for Australia, Ecuador and Switzerland; to 2011 for Costa-Rica; to 2010 for Colombia; 2009 to United Kingdom, Korea; 2008 for Bolivia, Czech Republic and Paraguay; 2006 for Canada, Chile and Spain; to 2005 for Norway, Germany, Ireland, Estonia; and 2004 Uruguay and to 2001 for Greece.

Source: UN DESA.

Despite these early efforts, the use of modern contraceptive has plateaued in Peru since 2000 and remains low in the international comparison. The share of Peruvian women who rely on modern family planning methods is nearly 15 percentage points lower than the OECD and LAC averages, while the share of those relying on traditional methods is 15 percentage points higher (Figure 4.7). This situation raises several policy challenges since traditional methods are typically associated with a higher risk of unintended pregnancy, as evidenced by comparatively higher failure rates (Sedgh, Ashford and Hussain, 2016).

International best practices also point to the crucial importance of combining free access to modern contraceptives with careful counselling. This reflects the fact that the impact of free modern contraception on teenage pregnancy has both intended and unintended effects. On the one hand, free access to contraceptives reduces the likelihood of an unwanted pregnancy among sexually active teenagers. At the same time, it means that sexual activity is facilitated, possibly leading to increase adolescent fertility rates if teenagers are not well-informed on how to use the contraceptive efficiently (Box 4.3).

The above considerations underscore the key importance of developing a well-coordinated system of sexual and reproductive facilities targeted at adolescents. The salient features of such a system include (i) easiness to reach the facility; (ii) youth friendliness of the facility; and (iii) complementing free access to modern contraceptives by the teenagers with a mandatory counselling. Such a system could be part of a partnership between the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations and the Ministry of Health. It could result in the creation of a network of teenage pregnancy prevention units within the local services and facilities that the two ministries are already responsible for. These are the DEMUNA services (Servicio de Defensoría del Niño y del Adolescente), which are coordinated and supported by the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations, and the health centres, which are managed by the Ministry of Health.

Box 4.3. Counselling is a key to ensure that free access to modern contraception leads to a decline in teenage pregnancy

Free access to modern contraception can have ambiguous effects on teenage pregnancy in the absence of a well-thought implementation strategy.

Indeed, there is evidence that without the support of careful counselling campaigns on how to use contraceptives properly, free access programmes can even lead to an increase in adolescent fertility rates. As an illustration, Buckles and Hungerman (forthcoming) find that free access to condom in schools has led to increase teenage pregnancy where school condom distribution programmes have been carried out alone. When introduced in combination with mandatory counselling, school condom distribution programmes tend to decrease adolescent fertility rates.

The same logic applies to emergency contraception. The available evidence suggests that unless girls have been informed in advance that the “day after pill” must be taken as soon as possible after sex, its free access may just lead to encourage girls to engage in risky sexual behaviour with hardly any effects on teenage pregnancies (Girma and Paton, 2011; Durrance, 2013). The situation is different however when access to contraception is accompanied by proper counselling. The Pill, that is prescribed by a physician who teaches women how to use it efficiently, does lower teenage pregnancy (Goldin and Katz, 2002; Bailey, 2006; Guldi, 2008 and Ananat and Hungerman, 2012). Proper counseling seems a key to reap the benefit of free access to modern contraception and, hence, reduce teenage pregnancy.

It is essential that the services provided by these units are youth-friendly to ensure that young people use them (Bhuiya et al., 2006). Various qualitative studies among Latin American teenagers show that the use of contraception requires the removal of various psychological barriers that can prevent the youth from accessing the contraceptives (Azevedo et al., 2012). In particular, many adolescents feel uncomfortable when faced with the prospect of interacting personally with an adult, with whom they may not want to share that they are planning to have sexual intercourses. Compounding this embarrassment is the attitude of the adults, often described as openly hostile by teenagers.17 Some training of the providers may be necessary to address these barriers. One additional reason why youth friendly facilities play an important role is that they provide a vehicle for spreading information about types of contraceptives and their effectiveness.18

4.3.3. Alleviating the motherhood penalty

Not only entrenched gender roles push girls out of school in case of teenage pregnancy. They also mean that women renounce participating in the labour market following the birth of their child. In Peru, like in many other countries, adult women who are mothers of dependent children (age 0-14) are much less likely to be in the labour market than women without dependent children. Descriptive evidence reveals that 25- to 54-year-old Peruvian who are mothers of at least one dependent child are about 10 percentage points less likely to be in paid work than comparably-aged women without dependent children. As shown in Figure 4.8, the motherhood employment gap in Peru (10 percentage points) is larger than in most countries observed. This includes in the comparison with Mexico (where the gap amounts to 8 percentage points), Colombia (5 points) and Chile (4 points).

Figure 4.8. Mothers are less likely to be in paid work than women without dependent children in most countries

Note: Data refer to 2012 for Denmark and Finland; 2013 for Chile, Germany and Turkey; 2015 for Colombia and 1024 for all other countries. Data for Canada refer to women with and without at least one child aged 0-15, and for the United States to women with and without at least one child aged 0-17.

Source: OECD Family Database (2016) and OECD calculations based on ENAHO (2016) for Peru.

Fathers, in contrast, suffer little penalty for becoming a parent. Fathers are viewed as more stable and reliable workers, compared to mothers who are on the front-line of family care commitments. In many countries fatherhood is also associated with a beneficial effect on men’s income and career trajectory (Correll, Benard and Paik, 2007; Hodges and Budig, 2010). Descriptive evidence from Peru confirms that fathers have higher rates of employment or education enrolment than men who are not fathers, although the extent of the gap has shrunk overtime (Figure 4.9).

Figure 4.9. Peruvian fathers are more likely to be in education or employment than men without dependent children

Note: Fathers are defined as having dependent children aged 14 or younger.

Source: OECD calculations from ENAHO (2016).

Social policies can help women enter, remain and progress in the workforce. A key determinant of a mother’s likelihood to engage in paid work is the age of her child. Across OECD countries and in Peru mothers are less likely to work when children are younger. In Peru only 44.3% of mothers (aged 15-64) whose youngest child is aged two or younger are in paid work, compared to 66.7% in the case of mothers whose youngest child is aged between six and fourteen years (Figure 4.10).

Figure 4.10. Child age influences maternal employment

Note: Data for Peru refer to 2016, For Chile, Germany and Turkey to 2013, for Denmark to 2012. Data for Canada refer to women with and without at least one child aged 0-15, and for the United States to women with and without at least one child aged 0-17.

Source: OECD Family Database (2016) and OECD calculations based on ENAHO (2016) for Peru.

While this result reflects the influence of family preferences and societal norms, it also emanates from inadequate access to workplace supports -- especially paid maternity leaves -- and a lack of affordable and good-quality childcare options that are amenable to give mothers and fathers equal opportunities to earn an income. Remedying these barriers is a challenge of key importance, especially given the rise of female-headed households in Peru. The percentage of households headed by women was 35% in 2016, a share that has steadily risen since 2006, when it was 32%. Excluding these women from participating in the labour market therefore risks marginalising more than a third of Peruvian households.

Ensuring that all mothers benefit from a decent maternity leave

Maternity leave policies provide mothers with the right to take a limited period of time off work around childbirth and when children are very young, and to return to the same position or an equivalent one that is paid at the same wage. Unless they are too long, in which case they can lead to detachment from work and human capital depreciation, job-protected maternity leaves are essential to support maternal labour supply (Kunze, 2016). They provide the security that mothers need to re-enter the labour force after childbirth.

The length of maternity leave in Peru has been increased to 14 weeks in March 2018, following Supreme Decree 02/2016. As shown in Figure 4.11, although this length is lower than the average among OECD countries (20 weeks), it matches the minimum lenght set by the ILO’s Maternity Protection Convention (No. 183). Moreover, maternity leave in Peru provides mothers with full compensation of their income loss. By terms of comparison, mothers receive 85% of their earnings on average in OECD countries. Overall, the regulatory setting for maternity leave in Peru provides mothers with enough time and decent resources to take care of themselves and their new-borns, while avoiding work detachment.

Figure 4.11. Maternity leave in Peru meets the minimum duration set by ILO on top of providing mothers with full compensation for their income loss

Source: ILO (2014) and MTPE for Peru.

This said, only a minority of women, i.e. those working in the formal sector, are entitled to a maternity leave, which suggests that continuing efforts to combat informality is a key to enhance the labour force participation of (young) women in Peru. Chapters 2 and 3 have provided a broad set of policy recommendations to reduce the cost of formalization while increasing its benefit, for both employers and employees.

Improving children’s access to early childhood education and care

Even if supported by more efforts to boost formalisation, the policies to facilitate the access to maternity leave will never be enough to boost the participation of women in the labour market. These policies must be integrated by the support of adequate child care options when the maternity leave ends and the mother is back to active work. Yet, access to affordable and good-quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) remains very unevenly distributed in Peru for children below six (the age by when compulsory schooling begins).

For example, fewer than 12% of 0- to 2-year-old children were enrolled in Cuna Más in 2014 (GRADE, 2016). ECEC coverage varies considerably across OECD countries, ranging between 67% of children between 0 and 2 years in Denmark, to 3.1% of the same age group in the Slovak Republic. In this setting, ECEC participation rates of infants and very young children (below three) in Peru is comparable to that at the low end of the OECD rankings (OECD Family Database, 2016).

By contrast, enrolments figures have undergone a remarkable increase for Peruvian children in preschool ages, between 3- to 5-year-olds. An impressive 86.3% of these children were enrolled in public or private preschools in 2014, up from only 45% in 2005 (GRADE, 2016). The 2014 coverage is in fact higher than the OECD average at 80.9% (Figure 4.12). However, the Peruvian average masks strong disparities by age. At 92.8% and 96% respectively, the enrolment rates for children aged 4 and 5 are impressive. For children aged 3 they are significantly lower, with only 70% of them being covered by Jardines, PRONOEI and their private equivalents.

Overall, improving children’s access to ECEC remains a key to boost maternal labour supply in Peru where maternal employment is relatively low to begin with (Cattan, 2016). As a priority, this objective would require a significant expansion of Cuna Más day-care services for 0- to 2-year-olds children, as well as of the absorption capacities of Jardines and PRONOEI preschools for three-year old children. Such a service expansion can be expected to be highly cost-effective since it would build on already existing programmes. From the social and economic viewpoints, the first beneficiaries would likely be children from disadvantaged households. As a result, their mothers, for whom affordability of ECEC is the main barrier to the labour market, would feel encouraged to search for a job. Concomitantly, this policy would have the merit to allow achieving the important goal of promoting child development, while at the same time reducing socio-economic gaps in education (Waldfogel, 2015).

Figure 4.12. Enrolment of 3- to 5-year-olds in preschool has grown substantially in Peru
Enrolment rates (%) in pre-primary education or primary education, 3- to 5-year-olds, 2005 and 2014

Note: Data reflect the number of children aged 3 to 5 enrolled in pre-primary education (ISCED 2011 level 02) or primary education (ISCED 2011 level 1), as a proportion (%) of the corresponding 3- to 5-year-old population. Potential mismatches between the coverage of the population data and the enrolment data mean that enrolment rates may be underestimated for countries (such as Luxembourg) that are net exporters of students, and overestimated for countries that are net importers. Enrolment rates are capped at 100% where they exceed 100%. Countries shown only if data are available for both 2005 and 2014.

Source: OECD Education Database (2016) and GRADE (2016) for Peru.

4.3.4. Ensuring women’s safety in public transport and related public spaces

A sizeable gender gap in the NEETs rate is not only observable among women with at least one dependent child. It represents an issue for concerns also among childless women, as shown by Figure 4.8 and Figure 4.9. The traditional gender roles that are behind this outcome appear exacerbated in Peru by a pervasive phenomenon of violence against women in public transports and spaces. This particularly worrisome source of distress leads many Peruvian women to decide to forgo job opportunities, irrespective of the number of their children (VAWG, 2015).

In 2014, the Thomas Reuters Foundation conducted an international survey about women’s safety in transports across 16 of the world’s largest capitals.19 The results show that Lima’s transport system ranks as the third most dangerous for women, behind Bogota and Mexico City. Respondents in Lima are significantly more likely to disagree with the survey’s statement according to which safe public transport is available in the city where they live. They are also much more likely to report cases of verbal and/or physical harassment when using public transports.

This situation calls for the establishment of a zero tolerance environment to violence against women in public transports and related public spaces in Peru. In this regard, the pilot project Hazme el Paro (Have my back) that the World Bank is conducting in Mexico City is particularly inspiring. It aims to help public transport users intervene more actively when they witness violence against women (Box 4.4). A similar initiative, of a key importance to improve women’s accessibility to transportation and, hence, to the workplace, could be replicated in Lima.

Box 4.4. Preventing violence against women in Mexico city’s public transport

The pilot project “Hazme el Paro” (“Have my back”) aims to create an environment with zero tolerance to violence against women in Mexico City’s public transport by inducing bystanders who witness verbal or physical harassment to take action.

The proposed intervention has three components:

  1. 1. A marketing campaign, which provides information to bystanders about what they can do to interrupt harassment in a non-confrontational way;

  2. 2. Training for bus drivers on non-confrontational strategies for intervening when harassment occurs; and,

  3. 3. A mobile application, which enables bus users to report when they are either victims of or witnesses to harassment.

Each time a passenger reports an event (ranging from verbal to physical abuse) and requests help, a system alert is created and the information is sent to the centre of operations of the bus company, which immediately launches an action protocol. Action ranges from broadcasting a warning message, through the sound system, to the driver actually stopping the bus and calling the police. Experience shows that just sending a message through the system makes people aware and creates a reaction of public shame.

Source: Bianchi Alves and Dominguez Gonzalez (2016).

4.3.5. Moving towards greater gender equality requires the support of a change in mind-set

The case for complementing the above measures with policies to combat women’s vulnerability at both the household level (domestic violence) and political level (women’s representation) is also strong in Peru. Domestic violence is widespread in Peru, where 40% of women between 15 and 49 report having experienced physical or sexual violence by their partner at some point in their lives. This places Peru at the high end of Latin American rankings (Bott et al., 2013). Although gender policies have a general role to play, thus generating beneficial effects that go beyond the scope of a youth report, these effects can be disproportionally bigger on a range of youth-specific challenges (OECD, 2017c).

The media can play a potentially powerful role to support the fight against domestic violence. As one example, access to cable television in India, including international programming where women are more outspoken, have lead to generate a much welcome momentum against domestic abuses (Jensen and Oster, 2009). The most promising results seem to flow from “edutainment”, which is the integration of educational messaging within popular entertainments (Ball Cooper, Paluck and Fletcher, 2014). Such is the “Soul City” initiative developed in the late 2000s in South Africa where domestic violence is typically described as endemic. Based on prime time radio and television dramas devised to achieve strong audience identification with characters and stories, this initiative aimed to perpetuate the norm that “people in South African communities disapprove of gender-based violence.” For example, one episode portrayed people beating pots and pans to voice their disapproval each time they overhear their neighbour beating his wife. The “Soul City” initiative successfully impacted disapproval of domestic violence. The share of respondents disagreeing that domestic violence is a private affair increased by 10 percentage points, from 56% to 66%. Anecdotal reports also indicate that some communities have made recourse to the pot-banging. Finally, the approach triggered a significant increase in the share of abused women who engage in help-seeking behaviours such as contacting supportive organisations and the national helpline (Usdin et al., 2005).

Increasing women’s political representation can also have remarkable effects. Women’s political empowerment can be achieved by reserving seats to women in assemblies at the national, regional or local level. This approach aims at ensuring that women are not only a few token in the political life but constitute instead a critical minority of 20, 30 or 40%, for example. Indeed, such reserved seats are increasingly popular. As of today, 37 countries have made them legal, through constitutional amendments or new electoral laws (Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance20): 21 in Africa,21 one in the Americas (Haiti), 12 in Asia,22 one in Europe (Kosovo) and two in Oceania (Samoa and Vanuatu).

Problem is that quota requirements are not always implemented. When they do, evidence shows that they lead to more female-friendly policies. This is for instance the case in India. In 1993, an amendment to the constitution of India required the States to both devolve more power over expenditures to local village councils and to randomly reserve to women one-third of all councils’ chief positions. Evaluation of this reservation system confirms that mandated representation of women has important effects on policy decisions. Women elected as leaders under the reservation policy tend to invest more in public goods that take into account female preferences, such as water infrastructure for example (Chattopadhyay and Duflo, 2004).

In addition, reservation policies substantially improve perceptions of female leader effectiveness, especially among men. This is very important to weaken stereotypes about gender roles in the public and domestic spheres (Beaman et al., 2009). This outcome is also consistent with the perception that there are no gaps in qualifications between male and female leaders. More importantly, research has documented an increase in the “overall” level of qualifications among politicians following the implementation of gender quotas. Indeed, on top of being at least as competent as their male counterparts, female candidates boosts electoral competition and push mediocre male leaders to resign, when a good representation is assured (Besley et al., 2017). Finally, by increasing the number of women in leadership positions, reservation policies contribute to raise aspirations and educational attainments for girls, in particular through a role model effect. Compared to villages in which leadership positions for women in councils were never reserved, the gender gap in aspirations closed by 20% among parents and 32% among adolescents in villages that have chosen a female leader for two election cycles. Moreover, the gender gap in adolescent educational attainments was erased and girls spent less time on household chores (Beaman et al., 2012).

Further to the policies aiming to combat domestic violence and improve women’s political representation, another vector for change of gender stereotypes is the reform of the educational curriculum. Particularly, Peru could opt as an immediate priority to strengthen the gender equality component already present in the 2009 curriculum. This could be achieved by means of reinforcing two generally consensual approaches to using school content as a tool for female empowerment. One would consist in focussing on the elimination of traditional gender stereotypes; the other would require to emphasise the reduction of gender gaps by broadening opportunities for educational choices. Chief among the latter, the study of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), financial, and entrepreneurship issues, as well as education, arts, and the humanities, should be made equally inclusive and attractive to boys and girls. Many OECD countries, including Germany, Iceland, and Ireland, have launched official guidelines for educational materials to ensure that they foster gender equality along these lines. Peru could draw inspiration from the experience of these countries, which appears outlined in Box 4.5.

Box 4.5. Promoting gender equality through school content

Stereotypes are learned, and they can be changed. Starting early in school it is important that textbooks and other educational materials avoid presenting stereotypical expectations of women and men’s behaviour. Many OECD countries, including Germany, Iceland, and Ireland, have launched official guidelines for educational materials to ensure that they foster gender equality. Teachers, too, should be trained to become aware of gender stereotypes. In Mexico, the Programa Sectorial de Educación 2013-2018 explicitly addresses gender stereotyping. It takes the good step of calling for the elimination of sexist or misogynist images and content in textbooks, as well as the inclusion of gender equality perspectives in curriculum and anti-discrimination messages in course materials.

Moreover, the study of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), financial, and entrepreneurship issues, as well as education, arts, and the humanities, should be made equally inclusive and attractive to boys and girls. Getting more students to study mathematics and science and reducing the related gender gap could involve making mathematics applied to real-world problems, identifying and eliminating gender stereotypes in course materials, promoting female role models, and using learning materials that appeal to girls.

Drawing on experiences in the private sector, countries across the OECD have tried a variety of strategies to raise awareness about opportunities in STEM careers. Countries like Belgium (Flemish Community), Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, and Poland organise “girls” days at workplaces, during which companies and research institutions invite girls for visits to introduce them to non-traditional technical jobs and careers, although some of these projects are small in scale. In Germany, the Go MINT! Initiative (“MINT” is the STEM acronym in German) was launched in 2008 to increase young women’s interest in scientific and technical degree courses.

Source: OECD (2017).

4.4. Indigenous and Afro-Peruvian youth

Indigenous people and Afro-descendants represent a significant share of the Latin American population. According to the latest figures available, there are about 42 million indigenous people in Latin America, corresponding to nearly 8% of the overall regional population (World Bank, 2015). In addition, about 130 million people of African descent live in Latin America, corresponding to roughly a quarter of the population in the subcontinent (Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America at Princeton University). Despite their significant size, these groups face important challenges related to their economic and social exclusion, a reflection of their disproportionate share among the poor. Indigenous people and Afro-descendants make up 14% and 40% respectively of people living with less than two dollars a day in the region.

In Peru, people who identify themselves as indigenous or Afro-Peruvian make for roughly 27% of the total population (ENAHO 2016). However, the breakdown between the two groups is reverse compared to the division that prevails on average in Latin America: 25% of respondents view themselves as indigenous23 and 2% as Afro-Peruvian. Yet, the latter figure likely corresponds to an underestimate; in effect, the nationally representative survey conducted in 2017 by the Peruvian Ministry of Culture (MINCULT, 2017) suggests a share of Afro-Peruvians equal to 9%.

Similar to the other Latin American countries, indigenous and Afro-Peruvian people are significantly more likely to be in subsistence employment than people who self-identify as white or “mestizo” (Figure 4.1). Specifically, being born to indigenous or Afro-Peruvian parents substantially increases the probability of being raised in a poor household, which contributes to a poverty trap that in turns undermines the well-being of indigenous and Afro-Peruvian children, as well as their social and economic potential (World Bank, 2015; Benavides et al., 2015). For example, Indigenous and Afro-Peruvian youth are disproportionately more likely to leave school early (Figure 4.4). Moreover, consistent with poverty being linked with low female empowerment (Duflo, 2012), being a women in these populations leads to multiple disadvantages. As an illustration, the probability for indigenous and Afro-Peruvian female adolescents to be pregnant is 60% and twice higher than among white and “mestizo” girls, respectively (Figure 4.6).

In this setting, ensuring that the policies set in place to boost the enrolment and learning opportunities of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and to strengthen female empowerment devote a particular attention to indigenous and Afro-Peruvian populations is a key priority. Further to the policies discussed in Chapter 3, this entails improving the educational attainments and job opportunities of rural indigenous youth. It also requires actively combating the discrimination that indigenous and Afro-Peruvian people endure.

4.4.1. Improving educational attainments and job opportunities of rural indigenous youth

Improving bilingual education and implementing a coordinated national strategy to promote rural development are important policy priorities to boost the educational attainment and job opportunities of rural indigenous youth.

Boosting educational attainments

Indigenous children in Latin American countries face many barriers to accessing education. For the important share of the region’s population that speak an indigenous language, access to education remains largely contingent upon understanding and using the dominant language as medium of instruction, usually Spanish. In Peru for example, approximately 20% of the population reports Quechua, Aymara or other native languages as their mother tongue or the language learnt in childhood (ENHAO 2016). In order to close the important ethnic gaps in learning achievements that are associated to this situation, several Latin American governments have introduced in recent decades multilingual education programmes that use all learners’ (and their teachers’) best languages, without neglecting the acquisition of dominant languages.

Introduced during the 1970s, bilingual education has expanded significantly during the past 20 years in Peru. At the core of this effort lies the programme Educación Intercultural Bilingüe (EIB), which aims to achieve two main objectives: (i) increasing educational opportunities for indigenous children; and (ii) recognizing the multilingual and multicultural character of Peruvian society. This is in line with the spirit of other constitutional and education laws in Latin American countries, along with international agreements (Box 4.6).

Peru’s EIB programme focuses on primary education. It emphasizes teaching and learning in indigenous languages at the lower grades of primary school. At the same time, importance remains also attributed to the acquisition of a proficiency in Spanish language, which is essential for children to continue develop a curriculum in the dominant language. The programme allows the gradual adaptation of the speed at which teaching shifts from indigenous language to Spanish, reflecting the child’s proficiency. For example, indigenous children who enter school as monolingual in an indigenous language should learn all subjects in their mother tongue in grades one and two, including Spanish as a second language. In third grade, Spanish-medium instruction should make up to 20% of a class’ time with this share increasing gradually -- by 10 percentage units each year, reaching 50% by the end of primary school, when the child reaches grade six (DIGEIBIR, 2013).

Precisely detecting the outcomes of the EIB programme would require more monitoring. While fairly limited, the evidence available suggests that EIB can play a crucial role in helping narrowing achievement gaps between indigenous and non-indigenous children. For example, Hynsjö and Damon (2016) find that indigenous children who can access bilingual schools with Quechua-medium education achieve substantially higher scores in mathematics compared to indigenous children who attend schools with only Spanish-medium education. Moreover, they perform at least as well as others in Spanish.

In perspective, expanding the coverage of primary schools by EIB in Peru would require to further increase the number of bilingual teachers, who are in short supply at present (a situation common to many other Latin American countries; see, Hynsjö and Damon, 2016). Reinforcing teachers’ access to training opportunities also seems essential. In addition, expanding the EIB programme to secondary education could be a way to help mitigating school dropouts. This could be achieved following a targeted approach that prioritises the geographical areas characterised by the largest shares of children with a limited proficiency in Spanish, among those who access secondary education. In order to increase the potential of this strategy to produce results, more housing facilities could be created as a way of supporting the large number of students who live in remote rural areas. Importantly, in a setting where, reflecting intense rural-to-urban migration flows, about half of indigenous people live in urban areas, it would be worth considering developing bilingual education opportunities also in urban neighbourhoods known for their high density of indigenous inhabitants.

Box 4.6. Indigenous peoples’ rights to education

Educational rights of indigenous peoples are granted by Part VI of ILO Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (Articles 26-31). This makes explicit reference to the right of indigenous peoples to be educated in their own languages and cultures, with content based on their own history, knowledge, value systems, social practices, and technologies, as well as the right to maintain their own educational institutions under state funding. The Convention also calls for equal access and opportunity to attain educational services at all levels and without discrimination. Article 30 acknowledges promoting multiculturalism as a route to fostering a dignified image of indigenous peoples in contemporary society.

The 2007 the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has ratified and expanded most of the above aspects, with Articles 11 to 15 relating more specifically to educational rights. Articles 11 and 12 state the right to practice and maintain present and future cultural traditions and customs of indigenous peoples, including religious and spiritual practices and ceremonies, as well as the responsibility of states to protect and provide access to religious and cultural sites. Articles 13 and 14 establish that indigenous peoples “...have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons” as well as to “...establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.”

Furthermore, the declaration recommends that “ conjunction with indigenous peoples, take effective measures, in order for indigenous individuals, particularly children, including those living outside their communities, to have access, when possible, to an education in their own culture and provided in their own language” (Article 14, numeral 3). In addition, states are encouraged to take effective measures, in consultation with indigenous peoples, “ combat prejudice and eliminate discrimination and to promote tolerance, understanding and good relations among indigenous peoples and all other segments of society” (Article 15).

Source: World Bank (2015).

Boosting job opportunities

Development policies in Peru still tend to view rural development and poverty alleviation as interdependent. This means, in practice, that a strong policy attention remains devoted towards providing poor people with short-term relief until they migrate to urban areas where it is unlikely that they will make their lives easier (OECD, 2016c). Poor people of rural origins typically lack the skills to get a decently paid occupation in the informal sector, not to mention a formal job.

To tackle these challenges, the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion launched the Haku Wiñay/Noa Jayatai programme in 2012 (“We are going to grow” in both Quechua and Amazonic languages). This programme relies on the so-called Graduation Approach for building food security and sustainable livelihoods, whose aim is to help poor families to become self-reliant and have active and productive lives, while maintaining strong social and economic ties with their communities of origin. Box 4.6 reviews the salient features of the Graduation Approach.

Box 4.7. The Graduation Approach to poverty alleviation: the example of the Village Enterprise programme in Uganda

The Village Enterprise programme aims to help extreme poor households in rural East Africa developing sustainable livelihoods. This non-profit initiative is made of four services, usually sequenced over a period of 12 months:

  • Training. A business mentor leads sessions for groups of around 30 participants. The training consists of 16 sessions on topics such as record keeping, business planning, marketing, the importance of savings, and financial management. Participants form small groups of three people with each group expected to write a business plan and to start a small business.

  • Capital grants. Three months after training, each small business group receives a grant of about USD 100 to start their enterprise. A second grant (half the amount of the first) is provided six months later; the second grant is conditional on the group’s proper utilisation of the start-up capital and regular participation in the savings groups.

  • Mentoring. Business mentors recruited locally as well as Village Enterprise field coordinators provide on-going mentoring and coaching, monitor the small business groups’ use of the capital, and advise them on specific challenges.

  • Business savings group (BSG). BSGs function similarly to Village Savings and Loans Associations. Members contribute to the group’s savings pool, and can also borrow from it. The goal of a BSG is to allow participants to access a stable flow of financial services and to support each other after the programme is over. The same group of 30 participants that attends the training forms the BSG together.

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) conducted a randomized evaluation between 2013 and 2016 to test the impact of this programme. The results reveal the high cost-effectiveness of the programme, associated to improved levels of subjective well-being.

1. See

Source: Innovation for Poverty Action.1

Particularly, Haku Wiñay/Noa Jayatai includes the proviso of basic income support to the poorest families. This direct support is integrated with activation measures to increase the self-sufficiency of recipient families, including skills training (e.g., how to rear the livestock, including vaccinations, feed and treatment of diseases), asset purchase assistance (e.g., chickens, guinea pigs, and so on), awareness about the importance of savings, as well as knowledge of banking and financial services. Lessons from a randomized experiment reveal that this policy is cost-effective (Banerjee et al., 2015). Although it shows relatively high up-front costs (the total implementation and programme costs amount to 2014 PPP USD 5 742), the estimated benefits from consumption and assets growth amount to 2014 PPP USD 8 380 per household, representing an overall 146 percent return. The Sierra y Selva Alta is the second main initiative in Peru that aims to create income-generation opportunities in the Peruvian highlands and Amazonia. Developed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, the salient feature of this project are similar to the Haku Wiñay/Noa Jayatai programme.

At present, the geographical coverage of the Haku Wiñay/Noa Jayatai and Sierra y Selva Alta programmes remains relatively limited. In addition, Peru’s strategy for rural policy is highly dispersed across a large number of programmes. This granularity may facilitate the adaptation of policy responses to local needs. However, it could also lead to duplications and reduced opportunities for critical mass effects and economies of scales. As these initiatives are part of a national strategic framework or governance arrangement, they suffer a problem of lack of coordination, which lives little scope for exploiting complementarities (OECD, 2016c).

The training offered and close mentorship of participants should aim to spur trainees’ engagement in new activities (such as tourism, fish farming, organic farming, flower production and agro-food industries, for example), rather than privileging the focus on traditional farm activities. Moreover, rural development strategies could be tied to the preservation of the ecosystems, notably by taking advantage of the knowledge of local populations on how to avoid unsustainable exploitations of resources. Conditions for access to markets by the newly created businesses would benefit from a scaling up of the local road networks connecting rural areas with provincial and regional capitals (OECD, 2016c). The experience of the province of San Martín with regards to the implementation of the Sierra y Selva Altapr programme offers an interesting example of good practice to address some of these challenges (See Box).

Box 4.8. Sierra y Selva Alta in the province of San Martín

In the province of San Martín, Sierra y Selva Alta provides local communities with information and funding to engage in new activities such as tourism, fish farming and flower production, among others. The programme favours a sustainable use of local environmental assets. This includes:

  • Initiatives promoting birdwatching to attract international tourism. The programme pays an ornithologist to work with the community and work with people to identify ways to capitalise on the fact that their territory displays record high biodiversity.

  • Likewise for fish farming, projects try to capitalise on the fact that rivers are abundant in the region and there are several species with a good commercial value that can be easily farmed in the rich Amazon’s waters.

  • Flowers are another abundant resource of the Amazon. Some small-scale pilot projects have started supporting communities to collect orchids from trees.

Source: OECD (2016c).

4.4.2. Combating discrimination against indigenous and Afro-Peruvian people

Discrimination is another hurdle faced by indigenous and Afro-descendants in Peru. According to the nationally representative survey conducted by the Peruvian Ministry of Culture in 2017 among 3 800 adults (MINCULT, 2017), the share of respondents who consider that (i) Afro-Peruvians; (ii) Quechua and Aimara people; and (iii) the Amazonian population are discriminated is 60%, 59% and 57%, respectively. By contrast, the percentage share of respondents who see mestizos and whites as unfairly treated is smaller, 31% and 16%, respectively. Studies on remuneration and income in Latin America have found that indigenous workers “are confronted with ‘glass ceilings’ or access barriers while trying to obtain high-paid positions” (Ñopo, 2012).

A multi-faceted national strategy to fighting negative prejudice and stereotypes against indigenous and Afro-Peruvian people has been developed recently by the Ministry of Culture (Benavides et al., 2015). This strategy comprises a range of initiatives from awareness-raising campaigns among the general public, to the design of specific training programmes directed at students. For this policy to be impactful, it seems critical that the Ministry of Culture develops a “MincultLAB”, that would be a correlate of the “MineduLAB” in the field of antidiscrimination policies. Indeed, little is known about how best to overcome biases against ethnic minorities in Peru, although the new evidence available provides some useful insights into “what works” (Valfort, 2018). For example, testing the impact of pilot interventions before scaling them up is a key to guaranteeing the implementation of cost-effective antidiscrimination programmes.

To be effective, antidiscrimination policies should also focus on de-biasing teachers at school as well as the employers, rather than just the students and the general public. Numerous studies have documented the incidence of what is known as the “Pygmalion effect”, according to which students perform better (or worse) simply because teachers expect them to do so. Accordingly, if teachers’ expectations about minority students are lower, their actual performances will also be lower. Moreover, for a given level of performance, teachers tend to give lower grades to minority students (Hanna and Linden, 2012). The bias of teachers against minority students exacerbates the fact that only a third of indigenous and Afro-Peruvian people aged between 18 and 26 access tertiary education, as opposed to 43% in the total population (Benavides et al., 2015).

To reinforce the integration of minority students in education, it seems critical to combine de-biasing with affirmative action programmes. In particular, the Beca 18 scholarship programme could include quotas for Afro-Peruvians, as it is already the case for indigenous students from highlands and Amazonian communities.24 Implementing quotas for both indigenous and Afro-Peruvian youth in the framework of Beca Doble Oportunidad scholarships, which aim to bring early school leavers back to school, should receive attention. Box 4.9 discusses these two programmes in details.

Risks of discrimination against indigenous youth and Afro-Peruvians go beyond schools. These youth also face unequal treatment in the labour market, a reality shown by the results of correspondence studies. These analyses consist in sending out, in reply to real job offers, the curricula of fictitious applicants who are identical in every respect, except their group membership. Employers’ differing rates of replies across types of applicants reveal a problem of discrimination based on group membership. Lima was analysed by two correspondence studies, recently. The first compared the call-back rates of white and indigenous fictitious applicants, using their first names and paternal and maternal surnames as a proxy for race (Galarza and Yamada, 2014). For instance, the selected white surnames had a predominant foreign origin (British, French, Italian, and Spanish) in order to convey an idea of skin colour. They included Anderson, Freundt, Bresciani, Visconti, Camogliano, De la Puente. By contrast, the indigenous surnames were clearly distinctive of their origin: Ccolque, Chanca, Cusi, Orcco, Paccsi or Sullca. The results reveal that indigenous applicants need to send 80% more applications than whites with similar qualifications in order to be considered. The impact of racial discrimination is greater among professional jobs than among technical and unskilled jobs.25 A second correspondence study, based on a comparison between callback rates of white and Afro-Peruvian fictitious applicants, also pinpointed significant discrimination against candidates of African descent (Galarza, Yamada and Zelada, 2015).

Labour market discrimination against indigenous and Afro-Peruvian job seekers might not only reflect employers’ prejudice. It could also derive from a rational process. Because they do not observe candidates’ productivity perfectly, employers often rely on their own perceptions about individual competences and productive capacities, associating them to group membership. Employers indeed easily view marginalised groups as less proficient in mastering social codes and the soft skills that matter for their productivity once hired. Biased inferences are highly detrimental to the labour market integration of these groups.

In this context, a promising way of reducing labour market exclusion of ethnic minorities in Peru would consist in introducing targets for indigenous and Afro-Peruvian in Active Labour Market Programmes offered by the Public Employment Services.26 This approach would allow caseworkers provide a more objective advice to employers about the competencies of “minority” applicants, in terms of both cognitive and non-cognitive skills, for example. To reach out to these marginalized populations, a requirement would be to increase the share of indigenous and Afro-Peruvian caseworkers, given that it might be easier for them to connect with vulnerable individuals of the same origin. Peru should take advantage of the broader need to recruit and train more PES caseworkers (Chapter 3) to achieve this objective. Furthermore, the role played by regional Semanas de Empleo (Weeks of Employment), or local Labour Fairs, promoted by the MTPE, could also be reinforced as a vehicle to encourage the labour insertion of these vulnerable groups.

Box 4.9. Programmes to reduce educational inequalities in Peru

Beca 18

Implemented by PRONABEC, Beca 18 is a scholarship programme that supports students coming from poor and extremely poor socio-economic backgrounds who have excelled in secondary education. The objective of the programme is to reduce inequalities in access to higher education by financing full scholarships to technical and professional programmes related to science and technology. The programme supports low-income students in their access to higher education with grants to pay tuition fees. Between 2011 and 2015, Beca 18 granted scholarships to more than 49 000 young people in poverty or extreme poverty, covering 94% of districts nationwide, with 75% of young people coming from districts in extreme poverty. The granting of scholarships has focused on keeping gender equity, although 55% remain granted to young men.

Public funds (in the form of student financial aid) go to schools that operate in line with the government’s goal of widening access to high quality post-secondary education for low-income students. Institutions participating in Beca 18 are chosen based on a set of pre-defined parameters of quality assessment. The careers identified relate to the needs of productive development and labour market requirements in the region of origin of the beneficiaries. Beca 18 recipients have for the main been admitted to private higher education institutions (over 90%). Regarding the field of study, 60% of recipients study degree programmes in the areas of engineering and technologies; 69% have chosen higher technological or teaching institutes, and 31% universities.

Beca Doble Oportunidad

Implemented in 2015 by PRONABEC, Beca Doble Oportunidad targets young people aged 17 to 25 who have been outside the basic education system for three or more years, but have not completed the last two years of high school and are at a severe disadvantage in the labour market. Through this programme, students are offered the opportunity to return to the education system to complete basic studies, participate in productive training, and complete extension courses to enter their regional labour market. The scholarship covers tuition fees and a living subsidy for two years. The programme has benefitted 1 754 students to date, and over 90% of students have chosen to study in two technical institutes of the country: SENATI (technical training for the manufacturing industry) and TECSUP (technological training). Most in demand fields of study are mechanics and maintenance of computer equipment. Most of the recipients are men (61%), and 88% come from different regions of the country (12% come from Lima). According to the Ministry of Education, 41% of recipients come from a low socio-economic background, and 20% have at least a child.

Source: OECD (2016b).


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← 1. According to ILO, vulnerable workers are defined as self-employed or contributing family workers, for the reason that these types of workers "have a lower likelihood of having formal work arrangements, and are therefore more likely to lack elements associated with decent employment, such as adequate social security and a voice at work" (see Since ENAHO data provide information about individuals' type of work arrangement, this chapter relies on a more precise definition conditioned upon whether the respondent works in the informal sector, as well as on her earnings (referred to as "subsistence employment", to differentiate it from ILO's concept of "vulnerable employment”).

← 2. Similarly to many other countries the end of secondary education in Peru coincides with the end of compulsory education.

← 3. Recent work by Del Carpio, Norman and Wada (2016) analyses the impact of conditional cash transfers on the amount and type of child labour in poor households in Nicaragua.

← 4. See

← 5. This program, whose name means “House of girls and boys” in Quechua, was launched in 1993 and deployed in the whole country in 1999. Wawa Wasi comprised the daycare service, but not the home visit service that compose Cuna Más.

← 6. Assessment of Cuna Más day-care services by the Group for the Analysis of Development (GRADE), a Peruvian think tank, is ongoing.

← 7. See

← 8. The assessment was carried out in 2016, and addressed more than 1 600 educational institutions (operation “EduQa” 2016).

← 9. The analysis of 158 rations of food distributed in Metropolitan Lima also revealed that sugar content could significantly exceed (up to 400%) the maximum limit recommended by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to prevent the occurrence of over-weight, obesity, and chronic diseases. In addition, the saturated fat content exceeded by more than 230% the maximum limit recommended. By contrast, the combination “milk with cereal flour and biscuit” in the breakfast delivered by Qali Warma provides less protein than the minimum required.

← 10. Founded in 1904 in the US BBBSA involved some 75 000 active matches between volunteer adults and youngsters in the early 2000s.

← 11. This field experiment was conducted by the MineduLAB in partnership with World Bank’s behavioural science unit.

← 12. See Ministerio de la Mujer y Problaciones Vulnerables (2012), Plan Nacional de Acción por la Infancia y la Adolescencia 2012-2021 - PNAIA 2021. The five other objectives of this action plan are: (i) reducing chronic malnutrition during early childhood to 5%; (ii) ensuring that 100% of girls and boys between three and five have access to pre-primary education; (iii) guaranteeing that 70% of girls and boys enrolled in the second degree of primary education get proper literacy and numeracy skills; (iv) allowing teenagers to enrol in and complete quality secondary education on time; (v) reducing family violence against boys, girls and teenagers.

← 13. Specifically, an increase of 20 percentage points in the municipal share of full-day high schools reduces the probability of motherhood in adolescence by 3.3%, a statistically significant result.

← 14. For instance, in the brochure prepared for the campaign “All in good time!”, the first section explains: “If you are in high school and your classmates are talking about having sex, you should know that the best thing for you to do is to postpone this activity. Adolescence is a very important stage of life where you achieve your identity as a unique and valuable person, establish friendships, consolidate your habits, direct your studies and strengthen your life project. Sexual relationships should begin when you have completed your physical and emotional maturity.”

← 15. see Santelli et al. (2017) for a review of “abstinence-only-until-marriage” programs in the US. See also Dupas (2011) and Duflo, Dupas and Kremer (2015) for the results of randomized experiments in Kenya.

← 16. See

← 17. These words used by a 19-year-old Ecuadorian pregnant girl to explain her pregnancy well summarise the problem: “The fear, or embarrassment, to have to go to a drugstore and buy contraceptives - because I knew, I have studied biology. But the fear and shame of having someone looking at me and saying: ‘What is this little girl going to do?’ That was my mistake, not being proactive to go and buy it. But even the sales people at the drugstore, they discriminate and look at you, and I said to myself: ‘I better don’t buy anything.’”

← 18. For example, making long-acting contraceptives widely available and cost-free to women and girls has turned out a success in the US state of Colorado where adolescent fertility rates were skyrocketing (Lindo and Packham, 2017). From 2009 to 2013, following the introduction of free LARCs, Colorado’s teenage birth rate dropped by 40% and its abortion rate fell by 42% among 15- to 19-year-olds. Colorado experienced the most rapid decline in teen pregnancy in the country in this period, and saved an estimated USD 49 million to USD 111 million in public, means-tested health-related childbirth costs.

← 19. The capitals surveyed were Bangkok, Beijing, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Delhi, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Lima, London, Manila, Mexico city, Moscow, New York, Paris, Seoul and Tokyo.

← 20. See

← 21. These 21 countries are : Algeria, Burundi, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

← 22. These 12 countries are : Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, State of Palestine, Taiwan and Timor-Leste.

← 23. One must bear in mind that Peru has experienced a long and complex process of mestizaje (racial mixing) since the beginning of its colonial era, back in the 16th century. This mestizaje makes it complicated to classify a person into a specific racial category. For instance, Sulmont (2011) reviews several studies on ethnicity and identity conducted in the early 2000s, and finds that the “indigenous population” may represent between 19.2% and 74.8% of the country’s population, depending on the criteria used (language, place of birth, race, or a combination of these variables).

← 24. See

← 25. The correspondence study focuses on three types of jobs: professional (requiring at least a University degree, which takes no less than five years in Peru), technical (requiring the completion of a degree at a technical college, which takes between two and four years), and unskilled (requiring secondary school or a lower education level).

← 26. As an illustration, the percentage of indigenous people living in slums almost twice as large as the proportion of non-indigenous urban dwellers (World Bank, 2015). The situation of urban Afro-Peruvian populations is not better (Benavides et al., 2015).

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