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The impact of cash and food transfers: Evidence from a randomized intervention in Niger


  • Hoddinott, John
  • Sandstrom, Susanna
  • Upton, Joanna


We assess the relative impacts of receiving cash versus food transfers using a randomized design. Drawing on data collected in eastern Niger, we find that households randomized to receive a food basket experienced larger, positive impact on measures of food consumption and diet quality than those receiving the cash transfer. Other outcomes showed greater variation by season. Receiving food reduced the use of a number of coping strategies but this effect was more pronounced during the height of the lean season. Households receiving cash spent more money repairing their dwellings prior to the start of the rainy season and spent more on agricultural inputs during the growing season. Less than five percent of food was sold or exchanged for other goods. Food and cash were delivered with the same degree of frequency and timeliness but the food transfers cost 15 percent more to implement.

Suggested Citation

  • Hoddinott, John & Sandstrom, Susanna & Upton, Joanna, 2013. "The impact of cash and food transfers: Evidence from a randomized intervention in Niger," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 149919, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea13:149919

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
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    3. Jenny Aker, Rachid Boumnijel, Amanda McClelland, and Niall Tierney, 2011. "Zap It to Me: The Short-Term Impacts of a Mobile Cash Transfer Program - Working Paper 268," Working Papers 268, Center for Global Development.
    4. Jesse M. Cunha & Giacomo De Giorgi & Seema Jayachandran, 2011. "The Price Effects of Cash Versus In-Kind Transfers," NBER Working Papers 17456, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Hoddinott, John & Yohannes, Yisehac, 2002. "Dietary diversity as a food security indicator," FCND discussion papers 136, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    6. Hidrobo, Melissa & Hoddinott, John & Peterman, Amber & Margolies, Amy & Moreira, Vanessa, 2014. "Cash, food, or vouchers? Evidence from a randomized experiment in northern Ecuador," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 144-156.
    7. 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.
    8. Subramanian, Shankar & Deaton, Angus, 1996. "The Demand for Food and Calories," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(1), pages 133-162, February.
    9. Hoddinott, John & Margolies, Amy, 2012. "Mapping the Impacts of Food Aid: Current Knowledge and Future Directions," WIDER Working Paper Series 034, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    10. J. Gibson & S. Rozelle, 2002. "How Elastic is Calorie Demand? Parametric, Nonparametric, and Semiparametric Results for Urban Papua New Guinea," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(6), pages 23-46.
    11. 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).
    12. Jesse Cunha, 2010. "Testing Paternalism: Cash vs. In-kind Transfer in Rural Mexico," Discussion Papers 09-021, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    13. repec:unu:wpaper:wp2012-34 is not listed on IDEAS
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    1. Comparing food and cash transfers (Niger)
      by UDADISI in UDADISI on 2013-06-26 20:15:00


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    Cited by:

    1. Gentilini,Ugo, 2016. "The revival of the"cash versus food"debate : new evidence for an old quandary ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7584, The World Bank.
    2. Стукач Виктор Федорович, 2011. "Инфраструктура Производственных Услуг: Новые Тенденции," Экономика региона, CyberLeninka;Федеральное государственное бюджетное учреждение науки «Институт экономики Уральского отделения Российской академии наук», issue 4, pages 133-142.
    3. Higgins, Sean & Lustig, Nora, 2016. "Can a poverty-reducing and progressive tax and transfer system hurt the poor?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 63-75.
    4. Аникина, Надежда & Стукач, Виктор, 2012. "Неформальные Институты Трансакционного Сектора Региона: Агроэкономический Аспект
      [Informal institutions transaction sector of the region: the agro-economic aspect]
      ," MPRA Paper 74171, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Feb 2016.
    5. Stoeffler, Quentin & Mills, Bradford, 2014. "Households’ investments in durable and productive assets in Niger: quasi-experimental evidences from a cash transfer project," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170212, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    6. Ferrière, Nathalie & Suwa-Eisenmann, Akiko, 2015. "Does Food Aid Disrupt Local Food Market? Evidence from Rural Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 114-131.
    7. Upton, Joanna B., 2014. "Resolving the Puzzle of the Conditional Superiority of In-kind versus Cash Food Assistance: Evidence from Niger," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 172942, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    8. Sudhanshu Handa & Silvio Daidone & Amber Peterman & Benjamin Davis & Audrey Pereira & Tia Palermo & Jennifer Yablonski, 2017. "Myth-busting? Confronting Six Common Perceptions about Unconditional Cash Transfers as a Poverty Reduction Strategy in Africa," Papers inwopa899, Innocenti Working Papers.
    9. Nelson, Suzanne & Frakenberger, Tim & Brown, Vicky & Presnall, Carrie & Downen, Jeanne, 2015. "Ex-Post impact assessment review of IFPRI’s research program on social protection, 2000–2012," Impact assessments 40, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    10. World Bank Group, 2016. "Cash Transfers in Humanitarian Contexts," World Bank Other Operational Studies 24699, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    cash and food transfers; food security; Niger; randomized intervention; Consumer/Household Economics; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Food Security and Poverty; International Development; D04; I38; O12;

    JEL classification:

    • D04 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Policy: Formulation; Implementation; Evaluation
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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