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Cash transfers project

A multi-country research initiative on evaluating the impact of national cash transfer programs in sub-Saharan Africa. The project provides technical assistance in the design, implementation and analysis of rigorous impact evaluations in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Results are presented to national stakeholders, and regional workshops allow for cross-country learning and capacity building. Key partners include UNICEF Country Offices, the regional office of East and Southern Africa, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization and Save the Children UK.

Publications

Cash Transfers, Public Works and Child Activities: Mixed Methods Evidence from the United Republic of Tanzania
Publication Publication

Cash Transfers, Public Works and Child Activities: Mixed Methods Evidence from the United Republic of Tanzania

This paper examines the impact of the United Republic of Tanzania’s Productive Social Safety Net (PSSN) on child work and education.
Zimbabwe's Harmonized Cash Transfer Programme Improves Food Security and Reduces Reliance on Food Gifts
Publication Publication

Zimbabwe's Harmonized Cash Transfer Programme Improves Food Security and Reduces Reliance on Food Gifts

In 2016, approximately 815 million people were chronically undernourished globally. In recent years, food security has worsened in some parts of the world, including sub-Saharan Africa. In Zimbabwe, latest estimates show that about 45% of the total population are undernourished1. To address the challenge of growing food insecurity, effective social protection programmes must be implemented and scaled-up. Cash transfers are one such programme, the primary objectives of which often include poverty alleviation and food insecurity reduction. This research study utilized longitudinal data collected for the impact evaluation of Zimbabwe’s Harmonized Social Cash Transfer Programme (HSCT), an unconditional cash transfer that targets ultra- poor, labour-constrained households. It accomplishes two things: It provides evidence on the relative merits of using an aggregate consumption expenditure measure versus a food security scale, to assess household vulnerability and food insecurity; and it contributes to a growing literature on the effects of state-sponsored unconditional cash transfers in Africa on household behaviour and food security.
Myth-busting? How research is refuting common perceptions about unconditional cash transfers
Publication Publication

Myth-busting? How research is refuting common perceptions about unconditional cash transfers

Six common perceptions associated with cash transfers are investigated using data from eight rigorous evaluations of government unconditional cash transfer programmes across seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The evidence refutes each claim. Used in policy debates, these perceptions undermine well-being improvements and poverty reduction, in Africa and globally.
Does Keeping Adolescent Girls in School Protect against Sexual Violence? Quasi-experimental Evidence from East and Southern Africa
Publication Publication

Does Keeping Adolescent Girls in School Protect against Sexual Violence? Quasi-experimental Evidence from East and Southern Africa

Sexual violence against women and girls is widespread globally. In their lifetime, one in three women will experience intimate partner physical or sexual violence and 7 per cent will experience forced sex by someone other than an intimate partner.
Why Assist People Living in Poverty? The ethics of poverty reduction
Publication Publication

Why Assist People Living in Poverty? The ethics of poverty reduction

The paper provides an examination of the relevance of ethics to poverty reduction. It argues that linking the shared values that define the social arrangements and institutions, which we refer to as ‘ethical perspectives’, to the emerging welfare institutions addressing poverty in developing countries provides a window into these processes of justification at a more fundamental level.
Does Market Access Mitigate the Impact of Seasonality on Child Growth? Panel data evidence from northern Ethiopia
Publication Publication

Does Market Access Mitigate the Impact of Seasonality on Child Growth? Panel data evidence from northern Ethiopia

Seasonality in agricultural production continues to shape intra-annual food availability and prices in low-income countries. Using high-frequency panel data from northern Ethiopia, this study attempts to quantify seasonal fluctuations in children's weights.
Subjective Well-being, Risk Perceptions and Time Discounting: Evidence from a large-scale cash transfer programme
Publication Publication

Subjective Well-being, Risk Perceptions and Time Discounting: Evidence from a large-scale cash transfer programme

The risk and time preferences of individuals as well as their subjective expectations regarding the future are likely to play an important role in choice behaviour. A large-scale survey in Kenya shows that cash transfers alone do not appear to impact time discounting or risk aversion, but they do have an important impact on subjective well-being measures and on future perceptions of quality of life.
Innovative Features in Conditional Cash Transfers: An impact evaluation of Chile Solidario on households and children
Publication Publication

Innovative Features in Conditional Cash Transfers: An impact evaluation of Chile Solidario on households and children

The Chile Solidario programme is an avant garde conditional cash transfer (CCT) in the Latin American context, introducing innovative features aimed at addressing specifically the multidimensional nature of poverty. At the household level we find that the programme has a significant impact on lifting families out of extreme poverty and that it does not have disincentive effects on labour market participation.
Protecting Vulnerable Families in Central Asia: Poverty, vulnerability and the impact of the economic crisis
Publication Publication

Protecting Vulnerable Families in Central Asia: Poverty, vulnerability and the impact of the economic crisis

This paper provides an overview of the social and economic vulnerabilities of households with children in the five Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan), and assesses the ability of national social protection systems to address these, with the main focus on the role of non-contributory cash transfers financed from general government revenues.
Impacts of the Global Economic Crisis on Child Poverty in Cameroon and Options for a Policy Response
Publication Publication

Impacts of the Global Economic Crisis on Child Poverty in Cameroon and Options for a Policy Response

This study aims to evaluate the potential impacts of the 2008/09 global economic crisis on child poverty in Cameroon. It also explores the potential effects that policy responses to such a crisis could have on children. In order to do this, the study uses a macro-micro methodology. A dynamic computable general equilibrium (CGE) model is used to simulate various scenarios of the economic crisis together with policies which respond to the crisis, taking into account the different transmission channels of the global crisis to the Cameroonian economy.
The Impact of the Increase in Food Prices on Child Poverty and the Policy Response in Mali
Publication Publication

The Impact of the Increase in Food Prices on Child Poverty and the Policy Response in Mali

Since 2006, Mali has experienced the full effects of the global food crisis, with price increases of up to 67%. This study presents simulations of the impacts of this crisis and a number of policy responses with respect to the welfare of children. The impacts are analyzed in terms of monetary (food) poverty, nutrition, education, child labour and access to health services of children. The analysis shows that when targeting children, school feeding programmes are a particularly efficient policy in that they concentrate public funds exclusively on the consumption of highly nutritious foods, while cash transfers can be used by households for other purposes. Moreover, school feeding programmes are likely to have desirable effects on school participation and child labour.

Journal Articles

Does money buy happiness? Evidence from an unconditional cash transfer in Zambia
Journal Article Journal Article

Does money buy happiness? Evidence from an unconditional cash transfer in Zambia

The relationship between happiness and income has been at the center of a vibrant debate, with both intrinsic and instrumental importance, as emotional states are an important determinant of health and social behavior. We investigate whether a government-run unconditional cash transfer paid directly to women in poor households had an impact on self-reported happiness. The evaluation was designed as a cluster-randomized controlled trial in rural Zambia across 90 communities. The program led to a 7.5 to 10 percentage point impact on women’s happiness after 36- and 48-months, respectively (or 0.19–0.25 standard deviations over the control group mean). In addition, women have higher overall satisfaction regarding their young children’s well-being, including indicators of satisfaction with their children’s health and positive outlook on their children’s future. Complementary analysis suggests that self-assessed relative poverty (as measured by comparison to other households in the community) is a more important mediator of program effects on happiness than absolute poverty (as measured by household consumption expenditures). Although typically not the focus of such evaluations, impacts on psychosocial indicators, including happiness, should not be discounted as important outcomes, as they capture different, non-material, holistic aspects of an individual’s overall level of well-being.
Can unconditional cash transfers raise long-term living standards? Evidence from Zambia
Journal Article Journal Article

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.