First-Ever Independent Study on Child Sponsorship Finds Strong Impacts from Compassion International's Program

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Economists discover large and statistically significant impacts.

Compassion International has pioneered a specific strategy in child development to break the cycle of poverty in the lives of children.

A new peer-reviewed, independent study on the viability of international child sponsorship led by Dr. Bruce Wydick, professor of economics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, reveals large and statistically significant impacts on life outcomes for children enrolled in Compassion International’s Christian child sponsorship program.

“We were surprised to see that no one had ever done research to determine if international child sponsorship really works,” said Wydick, “So we conducted a study of Compassion International’s program in six countries we believed to be representative of its work around the globe. What we found was that Compassion’s child-centered development approach to sponsorship has many strong, positive impacts on the adult life outcomes of these formerly sponsored children.”

Key findings:

  •     Former Compassion sponsored children stay in school 1 to 1.5 years longer than their non-sponsored peers (In Uganda, the numbers are much higher—2.4 years). An extra year of schooling could have long-lasting impact on a child’s future employment possibilities as an adult.
  •     Former Compassion sponsored children were 27-40 percent more likely to finish secondary education than those who were not enrolled in the child sponsorship program.
  •     Former Compassion sponsored children were 50-80 percent more likely to complete a university education than non-sponsored children.
  •     As adults, former Compassion sponsored children were 14-18 percent more likely to have salaried employment than their non-sponsored peers.
  •     As adults, former Compassion sponsored children were roughly 35 percent more likely to secure white-collar employment than their non-sponsored peers.
  •     Former Compassion sponsored children were 30-75 percent more likely to become community leaders as adults than their non-sponsored peers.
  •     Former Compassion sponsored children were 40-70 percent more likely to become church leaders as adults than their non-sponsored peers.

Wydick’s team conducted their independent research over two years. In total, they studied over 1,850 formerly Compassion-sponsored children in six different countries where Compassion International offered child sponsorship programs between 1980 and 1992. In all, the team collected data on 10,144 people. The study was funded in part by USAID through BASIS, a development economics research center based at the University of California at Davis.

“Compassion International has pioneered a specific strategy in child development to break the cycle of poverty in the lives of children,” said Wess Stafford, Compassion International president and CEO. “While we are immensely gratified with the statistical evidence that the Wydick study provides, we can humbly say that we are not surprised. We have seen God’s blessing on this ministry since its inception. And, as hard as we work to rescue every little boy and girl from the grip of poverty, He deserves the glory for the results.”

The full study is tentatively scheduled for publication in April 2013 issue of the Journal of Political Economy edited by the economics department at the University of Chicago For more information and resources regarding the research, go to

Compassion International is the world’s leading authority in child sponsorship. Compassion revolutionized the fight against global poverty by equipping the Church to develop children out of poverty to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults. It is the only child sponsorship program to be validated through independent, empirical research. Today, Compassion partners with more than 6,000 Christian churches in 26 countries to release more than 1.4 million babies, children and students from poverty in Jesus’ name. Compassion has been awarded the highest rating for financial stewardship and transparency for 12 consecutive years by Charity Navigator, America’s largest charity evaluator. For more information on the ministry, visit or follow on twitter at @compassion.

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TIm Glenn
Compassion International
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