Jacobus de Hoop, Tia Palermo, Lisa Hjelm, Sudhanshu Handa
Poverty is a chronic stressor that can lead to poor physical and mental health. This study examines whether two similar government poverty alleviation programs reduced the levels of perceived stress and poverty among poor households in Zambia.
Secondary data from two cluster randomized controlled trials were used to evaluate the impacts of two unconditional cash transfer programs in Zambia. Participants were interviewed at baseline and followed over 36 months. Perceived stress among female caregivers was assessed using the Cohen Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Poverty indicators assessed included per capita expenditure, household food security, and (nonproductive) asset ownership. Fixed effects and ordinary least squares regressions were run, controlling for age, education, marital status, household demographics, location, and poverty status at baseline.
Cash transfers did not reduce perceived stress but improved economic security (per capita consumption expenditure, food insecurity, and asset ownership). Among these poverty indicators, only food insecurity was associated with perceived stress. Age and education showed no consistent association with stress, whereas death of a household member was associated with higher stress levels.
In this setting, perceived stress was not reduced by a positive income shock but was correlated with food insecurity and household deaths, suggesting that food security is an important stressor in this context. Although the program did reduce food insecurity, the size of the reduction was not enough to generate a statistically significant change in stress levels. The measure used in this study appears not to be correlated with characteristics to which it has been linked in other settings, and thus, further research is needed to examine whether this widely used perceived stress measure appropriately captures the concept of perceived stress in this population.
Smriti Tiwaria, Silvio Daidone, Maria Angelita Ruvalcaba, Ervin Prifti, Sudhanshu Handa, Benjamin Davis, Ousmane Niang, Luca Pellerano, Paul Quarles van Ufford, David Seidenfeld
Tia Palermo, Sudhanshu Handa, Amber Peterman, Leah Prencipe, David Seidenfeld
M. Hidrobo, Amber Peterman, L. Heise
Sudhanshu Handa, Luisa Natali, David Seidenfeld, Gelson Tembo
A. M. Buller, M. Hidrobo, Amber Peterman, L. Heise
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is highly prevalent and has detrimental effects on the physical and mental health of women across the world. Despite emerging evidence on the impacts of cash transfers on intimate partner violence, the pathways through which reductions in violence occur remain under-explored. A randomised controlled trial of a cash and in-kind food transfer programme on the northern border of Ecuador showed that transfers reduced physical or sexual violence by 30 %. This mixed methods study aimed to understand the pathways that led to this reduction.
We conducted a mixed methods study that combined secondary analysis from a randomised controlled trial relating to the impact of a transfer programme on IPV with in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with male and female beneficiaries. A sequential analysis strategy was followed, whereby qualitative results guided the choice of variables for the quantitative analysis and qualitative insights were used to help interpret the quantitative findings.
We found qualitative and quantitative evidence that the intervention led to reductions in IPV through three pathways operating at the couple, household and individual level: i) reduced day-to-day conflict and stress in the couple; ii) improved household well-being and happiness; and iii) increased women’s decision making, self-confidence and freedom of movement. We found little evidence that any type of IPV increased as a result of the transfers.
While cash and in-kind transfers can be important programmatic tools for decreasing IPV, the positive effects observed in this study seem to depend on circumstances that may not exist in all settings or programmes, such as the inclusion of a training component. Moreover, the programme built upon rather than challenged traditional gender roles by targeting women as transfer beneficiaries and framing the intervention under the umbrella of food security and nutrition – domains traditionally ascribed to women.
Transfers destined for food consumption combined with nutrition training reduced IPV among marginalised households in northern Ecuador. Evidence suggests that these reductions were realised by decreasing stress and conflict, improving household well-being, and enhancing women’s decision making, self-confidence and freedom of movement.
Sudhanshu Handa, Bruno Martorano, Carolyn T. Halpern, Audrey Pettifor, Harsha Thirumurthy
Sudhanshu Handa, D. Seidenfeld, B. David, G. Tembo, Zambia Evaluation Cash Transfer Team
Accumulated evidence from dozens of cash transfer (CT) programs across the world suggests that there are few interventions that can match the range of impacts and cost-effectiveness of a small, predictable monetary transfer to poor families in developing countries. However, individual published impact assessments typically focus on only one program and one outcome. This article presents two-year impacts of the Zambian Government's Child Grant, an unconditional CT to families with children under age 5, across a wide range of domains including consumption, productive activity, and women and children's outcomes, making this one of the first studies to assess both protective and productive impacts of a national unconditional CT program. We show strong impacts on consumption, food security, savings, and productive activity. However, impacts in areas such as child nutritional status and schooling depend on initial conditions of the household, suggesting that cash alone is not enough to solve all constraints faced by these poor, rural households. Nevertheless, the apparent transformative effects of this program suggest that unconditional transfers in very poor settings can contribute to both protection and development outcomes.
Sudhanshu Handa, Tia Palermo, Molly Rosenberg, Audrey Pettifor, Carolyn Tucker Halpern, Harsha Thirumurthy
Sudhanshu Handa, Amber Peterman, D. Seidenfeld, G. Tembo