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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.

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.