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

Author

Listed:
  • Sarah J. 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Sarah J. Baird & Ephraim Chirwa & Jacobus de Hoop & Berk Özler, 2013. "Girl Power: Cash Transfers and Adolescent Welfare. Evidence from a Cluster-Randomized Experiment in Malawi," NBER Working Papers 19479, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19479
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Esther Duflo, 2012. "Women Empowerment and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1051-1079, December.
    2. Esther Duflo, 2003. "Grandmothers and Granddaughters: Old-Age Pensions and Intrahousehold Allocation in South Africa," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(1), pages 1-25, June.
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    6. Sarah Baird & Ephraim Chirwa & Craig McIntosh & Berk Özler, 2010. "The short‐term impacts of a schooling conditional cash transfer program on the sexual behavior of young women," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(S1), pages 55-68, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bandiera, Oriana. & Buehren, Niklas. & Burgess, Robin. & Goldstein, Markus. & 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.

    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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