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

In: African Successes, Volume II: 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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Suggested Citation

  • Sarah Baird & Ephraim Chirwa & Jacobus de Hoop & Berk Özler, 2014. "Girl Power: Cash Transfers and Adolescent Welfare: Evidence from a Cluster-Randomized Experiment in Malawi," NBER Chapters, in: African Successes, Volume II: Human Capital, pages 139-164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:13380
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    Cited by:

    1. Bandiera, Oriana. & Buehren, Niklas. & Burgess, Robin. & Goldstein, Markus P., & Gulesci, Selim. & Rasul, Imran. & Sulaiman, Munshi., 2015. "Women’s economic empowerment in action : evidence from a randomized control trial in Africa," ILO Working Papers 994874053402676, International Labour Organization.
    2. Seth R. Gitter & James Manley & Jill Bernstein & Paul Winters, 2022. "Do agricultural support and cash transfer programmes improve nutritional status?," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 34(1), pages 203-235, January.
    3. Helen Elizabeth Denise Burchett & Dylan Kneale & Sally Griffin & Málica de Melo & Joelma Joaquim Picardo & Rebecca S. French, 2022. "Which Structural Interventions for Adolescent Contraceptive Use Have Been Evaluated in Low- and Middle-Income Countries?," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 19(18), pages 1-31, September.
    4. Katherine Eyal & Lindokuhle Njozela, 2016. "What Difference Does A Year Make? The Cumulative Effect of Missing Cash Transfers on Schooling Attainment," SALDRU Working Papers 186, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    5. Bhashkar Mazumder & Maria Fernanda Rosales & Margaret Triyana, 2019. "Social Interventions, Health and Wellbeing: The Long-Term and Intergenerational Effects of a School Construction Program," Working Paper Series WP-2019-09, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    6. Bennell, Paul, 2021. "The educational attainment of orphans in high HIV countries in sub-Saharan Africa: An update," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 82(C).
    7. Eric V. Edmonds & Benjamin Feigenberg & Jessica Leight, 2020. "Advancing the Agency of Adolescent Girls," NBER Working Papers 27513, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Etienne Lwamba & Shannon Shisler & Will Ridlehoover & Meital Kupfer & Nkululeko Tshabalala & Promise Nduku & Laurenz Langer & Sean Grant & Ada Sonnenfeld & Daniela Anda & John Eyers & Birte Snilstveit, 2022. "Strengthening women's empowerment and gender equality in fragile contexts towards peaceful and inclusive societies: A systematic review and meta‐analysis," Campbell Systematic Reviews, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 18(1), March.
    9. Katherine Eyal & Justine Burns, 2016. "Up or Down? Intergenerational Mental Health Transmission and Cash Transfers in South Africa," SALDRU Working Papers 165, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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