DO CASH TRANSFERS ALTER HOUSEHOLD COMPOSITION? EVIDENCE FROM SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
Degree awarded: M.A. School of International Service. American University
Cash transfer programs have emerged as a core poverty reduction strategy and have been recently adopted by a few Sub-Saharan Africa countries, but there is a possibility that these programs have perverse effects on household behavior. This research uses experimental data from two cash transfer programs in Malawi and Kenya to evaluate the effects of cash transfer on household composition by focusing on the behavior of household members with respect to inwards and outwards migration. Analysis based on the data collected before and after the programs' implementation provide overall supportive evidence that cash transfers do alter household structure by affecting migration flows. The results show that in Kenya households that received transfers were more likely to send off young adult members, suggesting that the program provided resources to overcome short-term economic constrains. In contrast, in Malawi the provision of cash transfers increased the number of young adults in treatment households, although it is not clear if this is driven by new members joining the household or because members are less likely to leave. The discrepancy of findings between Malawi and Kenya suggests that programs with similar designs can have opposite effect when implemented in different context.
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