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Short-term impacts of an unconditional cash transfer program on child schooling: Experimental evidence from Malawi

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  • Kilburn, Kelly
  • Handa, Sudhanshu
  • Angeles, Gustavo
  • Mvula, Peter
  • Tsoka, Maxton

Abstract

This study analyzes the impact of a positive income shock on child schooling outcomes using experimental data from an unconditional cash transfer program in Malawi. Since households receive the cash and parents are responsible for making spending decisions, we also examine the intervening pathways between cash transfers and child schooling. Data comes from a cluster-randomized study of Malawi's Social Cash Transfer Program (SCTP). After a baseline survey, households in village clusters were randomly assigned to treatment and control arms with treatment villages receiving transfers immediately and control villages assigned a later entry. We test for treatment impacts on a panel of school-aged children (6–17) using a differences-in-differences model. After a years’ worth of transfers, we find the Malawi SCTP both improves enrollment rates and decreases dropouts. The main intervening pathway between the program and schooling is education expenditures, suggesting that the cash improves the demand for education by reducing financial constraints.

Suggested Citation

  • Kilburn, Kelly & Handa, Sudhanshu & Angeles, Gustavo & Mvula, Peter & Tsoka, Maxton, 2017. "Short-term impacts of an unconditional cash transfer program on child schooling: Experimental evidence from Malawi," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 63-80.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:59:y:2017:i:c:p:63-80
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2017.06.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    Demand for schooling; Cash transfers; Economic development; Sub-Saharan Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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