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Food and cash transfers: evidence from Colombia


  • Orazio Attanasio

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London)

  • Erich Battistin

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Alice Mesnard

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and City University London)


We study food Engel curves among the poor population targeted by a conditional cash transfer programme in Colombia. After controlling for the endogeneity of total expenditure and for the (unobserved) variability of prices across villages, the best fit is provided by a log-linear specification. Our estimates imply that an increase in total expenditure by 10% would lead to a decrease of 1% in the share of food. However, quasi-experimental estimates of the impact of the programme on total and food consumption show that the share of food increases, suggesting that the programme has more complex impacts than increasing household income. In particular, our results are not inconsistent with the hypothesis that the programme, targeted to women, could increase their bargaining power and induce a more than proportional increase in food consumption.

Suggested Citation

  • Orazio Attanasio & Erich Battistin & Alice Mesnard, 2009. "Food and cash transfers: evidence from Colombia," IFS Working Papers W09/15, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:09/15

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    References listed on IDEAS

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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. Baez Ramirez,Javier Eduardo & Camacho,Adriana & Conover, Emily & Zarate,Roman Andres, 2012. "Conditional cash transfers, political participation, and voting behavior," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6215, The World Bank.
    3. Denni Tommasi, 2016. "Household Responses to cash Transfers," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2016-20, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    4. Naila Kabeer & Hugh Waddington, 2015. "Economic impacts of conditional cash transfer programmes: a systematic review and meta-analysis," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(3), pages 290-303, September.
    5. Claudio Daminato & Nadir Zanini, 2014. "Funzioni di domanda ed implicazioni di policy: un’applicazione al caso del Reddito di Garanzia," FBK-IRVAPP Working Papers 2014-09, Research Institute for the Evaluation of Public Policies (IRVAPP), Bruno Kessler Foundation.
    6. Silva,Joana C. G. & Morgandi,Matteo & Levin,Victoria, 2016. "Trust in government and support for redistribution," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7675, The World Bank.
    7. Darwin Cortes & Jorge Perez, 2010. "El Consumo de los Hogares Colombianos, 2006-2007: Estimación de Sistemas de Demanda," REVISTA DESARROLLO Y SOCIEDAD, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE, December.
    8. Ubfal, Diego, 2016. "How general are time preferences? Eliciting good-specific discount rates," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 150-170.
    9. Denni Tommasi, 2015. "How Cash Transfers Improve Child Development," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2015-19, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    10. Kabeer, Naila & Waddington, Hugh, 2015. "Economic impacts of conditional cash transfer programmes: a systematic review and meta-analysis," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 63905, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    11. Jenny C. Aker & Rachid Boumnijel & Amanda McClelland & Niall Tierney, 2016. "Payment Mechanisms and Antipoverty Programs: Evidence from a Mobile Money Cash Transfer Experiment in Niger," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65(1), pages 1-37.
    12. Orazio P. Attanasio & Valérie Lechene, 2014. "Efficient Responses to Targeted Cash Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 122(1), pages 178-222.
    13. Gentilini, Ugo, 2014. "Our daily bread : what is the evidence on comparing cash versus food transfers?," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 89502, The World Bank.
    14. Baez, Javier E. & Camacho, Adriana, 2011. "Assessing the Long-term Effects of Conditional Cash Transfers on Human Capital: Evidence from Colombia," IZA Discussion Papers 5751, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Thomas Buser & Hessel Oosterbeek & Erik Plug & Juan Ponce & José Rosero, 2017. "The Impact of Positive and Negative Income Changes on the Height and Weight of Young Children," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 31(3), pages 786-808.
    16. Lentz, Erin C. & Barrett, Christopher B., 2013. "The economics and nutritional impacts of food assistance policies and programs," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 151-163.
    17. Basu, Karna & Wong, Maisy, 2015. "Evaluating seasonal food storage and credit programs in east Indonesia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 200-216.
    18. Attanasio, Orazio & Di Maro, Vincenzo & Lechene, Valérie & Phillips, David, 2013. "Welfare consequences of food prices increases: Evidence from rural Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 136-151.
    19. World Bank, 2011. "Work and Family : Latin American and Caribbean Women in Search of a New Balance
      [Trabajo & familia : mujeres de América Latina y el Caribe en busca de un nuevo equilibrio - Resumen ejecuivo (Vol. 2
      ," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12489, The World Bank.
    20. Attanasio, Orazio & Polania-Reyes, Sandra & Pellerano, Luca, 2015. "Building social capital: Conditional cash transfers and cooperation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 22-39.
    21. Emilio Gutierrez & Laura Juarez & Adrian Rubli, 2011. "Grandfathers and Grandsons: SHould Transfers be Targeted to Women?," Working Papers 1103, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
    22. Tusiime, Hamidu A. & Renard, Robrecht & Smets, Lodewijk, 2013. "Food aid and household food security in a conflict situation: Empirical evidence from Northern Uganda," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 14-22.
    23. Gilligan, Daniel & Hidrobo, Melissa & Hoddinott, John & Roy, Shalini & Schwab, Benjamin, 2014. "Much ado about modalities: Multicountry experiments on the effects of cash and food transfers on consumption patterns," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 171159, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

    More about this item


    Demand patterns; food Engel curves; evaluation of welfare programme;

    JEL classification:

    • C52 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Evaluation, Validation, and Selection
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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