UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Katherine Adams, University of California, Davis

Intrahousehold Effects of a Targeted Maternal and Child Nutrition Intervention: Household Behavior and Spillovers in Ghana

Date and Location

Monday, November 3, 2014, 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM
ARE Conference Room, 2102 Social Sciences and Humanities


It is common for health and nutrition interventions to target specific members within a household and for evaluations of their effects to focus exclusively on those members. If a targeted intervention introduces a change to a household’s utility maximization problem (new information, changes in constraints or prices, etc.) households might respond to the intervention in ways that affect the well-being of non-targeted members. In this paper we evaluate household behavioral responses to small-quantity lipid-based nutrient supplements (SQ-LNS) provided specifically to mothers and their babies to prevent undernutrition. We find households responded to the randomized, targeted intervention by increasing their labor supply, particularly among fathers, to fund increased expenditures on food (including nutrient-dense foods like fish, milk, and vegetables) and non-food items. Given higher food expenditures, we then explore whether there was an intrahousehold spillover effect on the nutritional status of non-targeted young children in the household. Overall, the nutritional status of these children was unaffected, but we find evidence of an improvement in linear growth among children with relatively taller mothers. Taken together, these findings have potentially valuable policy implications for a country like Ghana that is undergoing a nutrition transition and facing the double burden of undernutrition and overweight. More broadly, our findings underscore the value in collecting sufficient data to rigorously evaluate how households respond to targeted interventions and whether those responses generate intrahousehold spillovers.

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