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Can unconditional cash transfers raise long-term living standards? Evidence from Zambia


In Africa, state-sponsored cash transfer programs now reach nearly 50 million people. Do these programs raise long-term living standards? We examine this question using experimental data from two unconditional cash transfer programs implemented by the Zambian Government. We find far-reaching effects of the programs both on food security and consumption as well as on a range of productive outcomes. After three years, household spending is on average 67 percent larger than the value of the transfer received, implying a sizeable multiplier effect, which works through increased non-farm activity and agricultural production.


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Publication date: 2018

Author(s): Sudhanshu Handa, Luisa Natali, David Seidenfeld, Gelson Tembo, Benjamin Davis

Journal: Journal of Development Economics

Volume: 133

Page(S): 42-65

Language: English

Peer reviewed: YES

Related Innocenti Project(s):

Cash transfers project