UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Paul Winters, American University

Cash Transfers, Agriculture and Child Nutritional Status: Evidence from Malawi

Date and Location

Monday, May 20, 2013, 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM
ARE Conference Room, 2102 Social Sciences and Humanities


In the last decade, cash transfer programmes have become popular components of poverty reduction strategies in Sub Saharan African countries. Along with well established benefits such as a reduction in food insecurity and increased school enrolment, recent research has found these programmes are also effective in promoting on-farm activities and investments in agricultural assets. In addition, some cash transfer interventions have proven effective in improving nutritional status of children living in beneficiary households. In this paper, we use data from the Mchinji Social Cash Transfer pilot programme to assess if the programme had an impact on child nutritional status and to what extent this impact can be linked to increases in agricultural production by beneficiary households. At the household level, the analysis shows a substantial impact on household food and non-food expenditure as well as a shift in the consumption preferences towards better nutrients. At the individual level, we find children of age 0-5 residing in beneficiary households being, on average, taller compared to the control group which translates into a significant reduction in the stunting rate among children. Further, we find that the programme positively affected food consumption out of own production and that children living in families experiencing a shift toward home production of foods, such as meat and fish, benefitted more in terms of nutritional outcomes.

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