This paper aims at evaluating the impact of two different cash transfer programs in rural Mexico – Procampo and Progresa – on total consumption, food consumption and other outcomes like investment, schooling and health care. Progresa is targeted to women, while Procampo goes to farmers, mostly men and many of which are poor. We show that both programs boost consumption. However, they obtain this effect through different channels. Progresa is destined to consumption expenditure directly, while Procampo, which is paid to landholders, boosts investments and needs time to produce its benefits. Furthermore, we separate program from gender effects and show that cash transfer programs targeted to men are beneficial only when the recipients own means of production. This suggest that policy makers should take into account the relationship between gender and ownership of assets when designing poverty reduction programs.
Interesting blog and link to Ben Davis’ paper, The Lure of Tequila or Motherly Love: Does It Matter Whether Public Cash Transfers Are Given to Women or Men?.
Chakravarty, Abhishek (2010) The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy: Vol. 10 : Iss. 1 (Topics), Article 88.
This paper examines whether a permanent increase in the supply of immunisations reduces or intensifies the gender bias in immunisation against female children in India. It also investigates the effect of duration of exposure to the supply shock on gender bias. The variation in the implementation of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme across both regions and time is exploited for the analysis. Estimations use data from the 2005-06 Measure DHS survey in India. We find that the increased supply of vaccinations due to the programme initially increases the gender inequality in immunisation but that this increase disappears over time. Our results indicate that the programme has saved approximately 1.72-1.84 million children, of which about 70% are boys.
Available at: http://www.bepress.com/bejeap/vol10/iss1/art88
“Last year, the New York Times splashed stark images of child malnutrition in India’s hinterland across its front page. More recently, another front-page article in the Times reminded the world that India’s hunger problem hasn’t gone anywhere and told the story of how various social-safety-net programs have failed to help. As the article explains, India still faces endemic problems with chronic malnutrition and hunger — rates of child nutrition here compare unfavorably with many countries in sub-Saharan Africa — that government initiatives have failed to address….Gender is a problem as well. Research has shown that empowering women is one of the most effective ways to improve nutrition, especially for children. Studies by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), where I work, have demonstrated that the low status of women contributes to hunger and malnutrition — not just among the women themselves, but among their children too”
by: Purnima Menon
“Which makes for a more effective social safety net program: transfers of food, cash, or both? The question is hardly academic. Governments, international agencies, and non-governmental organizations confront it frequently. In recent years, many have begun favoring cash transfers over food aid. Cash transfers are cheaper, require less administrative capacity, and allow poor households to decide how the money should be spent. But are they always the most effective means of improving the lives and livelihoods of very poor people?
In a DFID-funded study, researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) studied four programs that provided food, cash, or a combination of the two in Bangladesh. They compared the programs’ impact on food security, livelihoods, and women’s empowerment, and evaluated how accurately the poor were targeted, how well the transfers were delivered, and which transfers beneficiaries preferred. They also considered how the benefits of transfers were distributed within households. Continue reading →
The Chronic Poverty and Long Term Impact Study in Bangladesh project, which focuses on 102 villages characteristic of rural Bangladesh, aims to further our understanding of the economic, social and political processes that shape chronic poverty in Bangladesh together with the impact of selected anti-poverty interventions on poverty dynamics. After initial community level fieldwork approximately 1,907 core households first surveyed in 1994, 1996, or 2000 were interviewed in late 2006 to ascertain how their living standards, endowment and other characteristics have changed over time and what role selected interventions have had on their welfare trajectories. 365 households who had split from their original households were also interviewed Detailed life-histories were then collected from a stratified sub-sample of approximately 293 adult men and women living in 161 households in order to better understand which events, institutions and processes have trapped certain households in chronic poverty while allowing others to escape from it. By analysing the results of the community level focus groups, panel survey and life-histories interviews together, a much fuller and more nuanced understanding of chronic poverty and the impact of the selected interventions is produced. Continue reading →
JOHANNESBURG, May 12, 2010 (IPS) – When Letesia Mbewe was nominated as a beneficiary in a cash transfer pilot project in Zambia’s Chipata district, she had no idea the project would change her life and that of her three children.
Mbewe, who spent most of her days tilling the fields struggling to earn enough to pay for one meal a day for her family, can now afford three meals a day. She can also send her children to school. But Mbewe is not the only one to benefit from cash transfers. According to a 2009 World Bank report titled “Conditional Cash Transfer: Reducing Present and Future Poverty”, cash transfers have led to many positive results in poor communities. These include: higher household consumption; increased use of preventive health services; a reduction in child labour; and higher school enrolment.
“In the morning I go to draw water from the well. From there I prepare food for the school-going children. I prepare porridge for them. After they have eaten they go to school. Then I also go to the field where I do some farming,” Mbewe said of her new daily routine in a documentary produced by the Regional Hunger and Vulnerability Programme (RHVP). RHVP is a Johannesburg-based research organisation which supports improvements in policy and programme approaches to hunger and vulnerability in SADC. The documentary titled: “A Transfer Out of Poverty”, released during a media workshop in Johannesburg in April, illustrates how cash transfers pilot projects are transforming conditions of poor communities in Zambia, Mozambique and in Lesotho where social transfers are in form of Old Age pensions.
“When I receive the transfer the first thing I do is to buy two bags of maize, which I take to hammer mills to grind into mealie meal. Then I also look into the needs of (my) children who are going to school. This involves buying books, buying uniforms and (paying) any other fees that the school may be asking for,” Mbewe said.
What makes a more effective social safety net program: transfers of food, or cash? The question is hardly academic. Governments, international agencies, and non-governmental organizations must decide whether to provide the world’s poorest people with cash, food, or a mixture of the two. In recent years, many have begun favoring cash transfers over food aid. Cash transfers are cheaper, require less administrative capacity, and allow poor households to decide how the money is spent. But are they always the most effective means of improving the lives and livelihoods of the ultra-poor?
Researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) studied four programs that provided food, cash, or a combination of food and cash to very poor communities in Bangladesh. They compared the programs’ effectiveness at improving the food security and livelihoods of particularly vulnerable populations, and considered how the benefits were divided among men, women, and children within households. They found that cash transfers were more successful at producing certain outcomes, while food transfers were best for achieving others.
For example, when the goal was women’s empowerment, cash payments to women were most effective at improving their ability to make decisions and mobilize household assets. This was particularly so when the payments came in the form of wages paid to participants in public works programs. For sustained poverty relief, those programs that combined food or cash transfers with access to credit or savings requirements had the greatest impact.
However, many women said they preferred food transfers to cash, citing worries that their husbands would spend the money on non-food items. The study found that when women’s nutrition was the objective, transfers of atta (whole wheat flour), as opposed to rice, were preferable. Because atta is considered less desirable than rice, less of it was stolen in transit and women consumed more than they did when transfers were given in the form of rice. Atta was also more easily enriched with other nutrients.
Researchers concluded that cash and food transfer programs should be designed in line with goals such as cost-effectiveness, nutritional impact, gender-specific outcomes, and long-term poverty reduction.
The IFPRI research monograph, Comparing Food and Cash Transfers to the Ultra Poor in Bangladesh, encourages policymakers to consider the specific objectives of social safety net programs before assuming that food or cash is always the answer.
Evidence from a pilot project in Lesotho. Key Findings include
• Cash transfers do not significantly increase anti-social
expenditures (alcohol and cigarettes), but do reduce
gender conflicts and tensions within households.
• Although the World Vision programme is a short-term
response to drought, there is some limited evidence that it
will have a long-term positive effect on household gender
• Generational conflicts resulting from cash transfers are a
much greater concern than gender conflicts and are
particularly acute in households where the elderly are
taking care of orphans and vulnerable children.
Authors: Rachel Slater and Matseliso Mphale (ODI)