Journal of Development Economics, July 2018, vol. 133, pp. 42-65.
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.