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Girl Power: Cash Transfers and Adolescent Welfare. Evidence from Cluster-Randomized Experiment in Malawi

In: African Successes: Human Capital

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  • Sarah Baird
  • Ephraim Chirwa
  • Jacobus de Hoop
  • Berk Özler

Abstract

Interventions targeting adolescent girls are seen as a key component in the fight to break the cycle of poverty in developing countries. Policies that enable them to reach their full potential can have a strong impact not only on their own wellbeing, but also on that of future generations. This paper summarizes the short-term impacts of a cash transfer program on the empowerment of adolescent girls in Malawi during and immediately after the two-year intervention. We find that the program, which transferred cash directly to school-age girls as well as their parents, had effects on a broad range of important domains – including increased access to financial resources, improved schooling outcomes, decreased teen pregnancies and early marriages, better health – and generally enabled beneficiaries to improve their agency within their households. Underlying these overall impacts, the experiment revealed important differences in program effects between young women who were in school at the start of the intervention and those that were not, as well as between young women who received cash transfers conditional on regular school attendance and those who received cash unconditionally. The results point to the potential role that cash transfer programs can play in improving the lives of adolescent girls in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the heterogeneity of effects under different program designs.

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This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 13380.

Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:13380

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  1. Esther Duflo, 2011. "Women’s Empowerment and Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 17702, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Iyigun, Murat & Walsh, Randall P., 2007. "Endogenous gender power, household labor supply and the demographic transition," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 138-155, January.
  3. Karthik Muralidharan & Nishith Prakash, 2013. "Cycling to School: Increasing Secondary School Enrollment for Girls in India," NBER Working Papers 19305, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Bruce Wydick & Paul Glewwe & Laine Rutledge, 2013. "Does International Child Sponsorship Work? A Six-Country Study of Impacts on Adult Life Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(2), pages 393 - 436.
  5. Pierre-André Chiappori & Sonia Oreffice, 2008. "Birth Control and Female Empowerment: An Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(1), pages 113-140, 02.
  6. Miriam Bruhn & David McKenzie, 2009. "In Pursuit of Balance: Randomization in Practice in Development Field Experiments," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(4), pages 200-232, October.
  7. Pramila Krishnan & Stefan Dercon, 1997. "In sickness and in health ... risk-sharing within households in rural Ethiopia," CSAE Working Paper Series 1997-12, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  8. Hotz, V Joseph & Mullin, Charles H & Sanders, Seth G, 1997. "Bounding Causal Effects Using Data from a Contaminated Natural Experiment: Analysing the Effects of Teenage Childbearing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 575-603, October.
  9. Baird, Sarah & Mcintosh, Craig & Ozler, Berk, 2010. "Cash or condition ? evidence from a cash transfer experiment," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5259, The World Bank.
  10. Baird, Sarah & Özler, Berk, 2012. "Examining the reliability of self-reported data on school participation," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 89-93.
  11. Baird, Sarah & Chirwa, Ephraim & McIntosh, Craig & Ozler, Berk, 2009. "The short-term impacts of a schooling conditional cash transfer program on the sexual behavior of young women," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5089, The World Bank.
  12. Mukesh Eswaran, 2002. "The empowerment of women, fertility, and child mortality: Towards a theoretical analysis," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 433-454.
  13. Marcos A. Rangel, 2006. "Alimony Rights and Intrahousehold Allocation of Resources: Evidence from Brazil," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(513), pages 627-658, 07.
  14. Esther Duflo, 2000. "Grandmothers and Granddaughters: Old Age Pension and Intra-household Allocation in South Africa," NBER Working Papers 8061, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Sarah Barber & Paul Gertler, 2010. "Empowering women: how Mexico's conditional cash transfer programme raised prenatal care quality and birth weight," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 2(1), pages 51-73.
  16. Shelly J. Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak & Terence J. Wales, 1997. "Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources? Evidence from the United Kingdom Child Benefit," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 463-480.
  17. Kandpal, Eeshani & Baylis, Kathy & Arends-Kuenning, Mary, 2013. "Measuring the effect of a community-level program on women's empowerment outcomes : evidence from India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6399, The World Bank.
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