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Cash, food, or vouchers?: Evidence from a randomized experiment in northern Ecuador

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Author Info

  • Hidrobo, Melissa
  • Hoddinott, John F.
  • Peterman, Amber
  • Margolies, Amy
  • Moreira, Vanessa

Abstract

The debate over whether to provide food assistance and the form that this assistance should take has a long history in economics. Despite the ongoing debate, little rigorous evidence exists that compares food assistance in the form of cash versus in-kind. This paper uses a randomized evaluation to assess the impacts and cost-effectiveness of cash, food vouchers, and food transfers. We find that all three modalities significantly improve the quantity and quality of food consumed. However, differences emerge in the types of food consumed, with food transfers leading to significantly larger increases in calories consumed, and vouchers leading to significantly larger increases in dietary diversity.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series IFPRI discussion papers with number 1234.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fpr:ifprid:1234

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Keywords: food security; food assistance; Cash transfers; in-kind transfers; vouchers; Nutrition; Caloric intake;

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References

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  1. Stephen Coate, 1987. "Cash Versus Direct Food Relief," Discussion Papers, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science 724R, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. McKenzie, David, 2012. "Beyond baseline and follow-up: The case for more T in experiments," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 210-221.
  3. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1105-1166, December.
  4. Thomas M. Fraker & Alberto P. Martini & James C. Ohls, 1995. "The Effect of Food Stamp Cashout on Food Expenditures: An Assessment of the Findings from Four Demonstrations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(4), pages 633-649.
  5. Hilary W. Hoynes & Diane Schanzenbach, 2007. "Consumption Responses to In-Kind Transfers: Evidence from the Introduction of the Food Stamp Program," NBER Working Papers 13025, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1988. "Cash versus Kind, Self-selection, and Efficient Transfers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 691-700, September.
  7. Cunha, Jesse & De Giorgi, Giacomo & Jayachandran, Seema, 2011. "The Price Effects of Cash Versus In-Kind Transfers," CEPR Discussion Papers 8581, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Margaret Grosh & Carlo del Ninno & Emil Tesliuc & Azedine Ouerghi, 2008. "For Protection and Promotion : The Design and Implementation of Effective Safety Nets," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6582.
  9. Schady, Norbert & Rosero, Jose, 2007. "Are cash transfers made to women spent like other sources of income?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4282, The World Bank.
  10. Janet Currie & Firouz Gahvari, 2008. "Transfers in Cash and In-Kind: Theory Meets the Data," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(2), pages 333-83, June.
  11. Yen, Steven T., 2010. "The effects of SNAP and WIC programs on nutrient intakes of children," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 576-583, December.
  12. Hanan G. Jacoby, 1997. "Self-Selection and the Redistributive Impact of In-Kind Transfers: An Econometric Analysis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(2), pages 223-249.
  13. Esther Duflo & Rachel Glennerster & Michael Kremer, 2006. "Using Randomization in Development Economics Research: A Toolkit," NBER Technical Working Papers 0333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. David S. Lee, 2009. "Training, Wages, and Sample Selection: Estimating Sharp Bounds on Treatment Effects," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(3), pages 1071-1102.
  15. Angus Deaton & Salman Zaidi, 1999. "Guidelines for Constructing Consumption Aggregates For Welfare Analysis," Working Papers 217, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  16. Jenny Aker, 2013. "Cash or Coupons? Testing the Impacts of Cash versus Vouchers in the Democratic Republic of Congo," Working Papers 320, Center for Global Development.
  17. Wiesmann, Doris & Bassett, Lucy & Benson, Todd & Hoddinott, John, 2009. "Validation of the world food programme's food consumption score and alternative indicators of household food security:," IFPRI discussion papers 870, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  18. Jensen, Robert T., 2004. "Do private transfers 'displace' the benefits of public transfers? Evidence from South Africa," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1-2), pages 89-112, January.
  19. Neil Bruce & Michael Waldman, 1988. "Transfers in Kind: Why They Can Be Efficient and Non-Paternalistic," UCLA Economics Working Papers 532, UCLA Department of Economics.
  20. Margolies, Amy & Hoddinott, John, 2012. "Mapping the Impacts of Food Aid: Current Knowledge and Future Directions," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  21. Skoufias, Emmanuel & Gonzalez-Cossio, Teresa, 2008. "The Impacts of Cash and In-Kind Transfers on Consumption and Labor Supply: Experimental Evidence from Rural Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4778, The World Bank.
  22. Pedro Albarran & Orazio P. Attanasio, 2003. "Limited Commitment and Crowding out of Private Transfers: Evidence from a Randomised Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(486), pages C77-C85, March.
  23. Basu, Kaushik, 1996. "Relief programs: When it may be better to give food instead of cash," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 91-96, January.
  24. Ariel Fiszbein & Norbert Schady & Francisco H. G. Ferreira & Margaret Grosh & Niall Keleher & Pedro Olinto & Emmanuel Skoufias, 2009. "Conditional Cash Transfers : Reducing Present and Future Poverty," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2597.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Alderman, Harold, 2014. "Can transfer programs be made more nutrition sensitive?:," IFPRI discussion papers 1342, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  2. Hoddinott, John F. & Sandström, Susanna & Upton, Joanna, 2014. "The impact of cash and food transfers: Evidence from a randomized intervention in Niger:," IFPRI discussion papers 1341, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  3. Haggblade, Steven & Diallo, Boubacar & Staatz, John & Theriault, Veronique & Traoré, Abdramane, 2013. "Food Safety Nets:," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 162439, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  4. Mabiso, Athur & Maystadt, Jean-François & Vandercasteelen, Joachim & Hirvonen, Kalle, 2014. "Refugees, food security, and resilience in host communities: Transitioning from humanitarian assistance to development in protracted refugee situations :," 2020 Conference papers 2, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

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