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Conditional cash transfers, women and the demand for food

Author

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  • Orazio Attanasio

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

  • Valérie Lechene

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

Abstract

We examine the effect of large cash transfers on the consumption of food by poor households in rural Mexico. The transfers represent 20% of household income on average, and yet, the budget share of food is unchanged following receipt of this money. This is an important puzzle to solve, particularly so in the context of a social welfare programme designed in part to improve nutrition of individuals in the poorest households. We estimate an Engel curve for food. We rule out price increases, changes in the quality of food consumed and homotheticity of preferences as explanations for this puzzle. We also show that food is a necessity, with a strong negative effect of income on the food budget share. The decrease in food budget share caused by the large increase in income is cancelled by some other relevant aspect of the programme so that the net effect is nil. We argue that the program has not changed preferences and that there is no labelling of money. We propose that the key to the puzzle resides in the fact that the transfer is put in the hands of women and that the change in control over household resources is what leads to the observed changes in behaviour.

Suggested Citation

  • Orazio Attanasio & Valérie Lechene, 2010. "Conditional cash transfers, women and the demand for food," IFS Working Papers W10/17, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:10/17
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    File URL: http://www.ifs.org.uk/wps/wp1017.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Schady, Norbert & Rosero, José, 2008. "Are cash transfers made to women spent like other sources of income?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 101(3), pages 246-248, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. de Brauw, Alan & Gilligan, Daniel O. & Hoddinott, John & Roy, Shalini, 2014. "The Impact of Bolsa Família on Women’s Decision-Making Power," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 487-504.
    2. Paul Fisher, 2016. "British tax credit simplification, the intra-household distribution of income and family consumption," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(2), pages 444-464.
    3. Selma Telalagic, 2014. "Kinship and Consumption: The Effect of Spouses' Outside Options on Household Productivity," Economics Series Working Papers 720, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    4. Fiorella Benedetti & Pablo Ibarrarán & Patrick J. McEwan, 2016. "Do Education and Health Conditions Matter in a Large Cash Transfer? Evidence from a Honduran Experiment," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(4), pages 759-793.
    5. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Demand; conditional cash transfer; Engel curves; income elasticities; QUAIDS; food; nutrition.;

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