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

  • Sarah J. Baird
  • Ephraim Chirwa
  • Jacobus de Hoop
  • Berk Özler

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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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19479.

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Date of creation: Sep 2013
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Publication status: published as Girl Power: Cash Transfers and Adolescent Welfare: Evidence from a Cluster-Randomized Experiment in Malawi , Sarah Baird, Ephraim Chirwa, Jacobus de Hoop, Berk Özler. in African Successes, Volume II: Human Capital , Edwards, Johnson, and Weil. 2016
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19479
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  1. Bruce Wydick & Paul Glewwe & Laine Rutledge, 2013. "Does International Child Sponsorship Work? A Six-Country Study of Impacts on Adult Life Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(2), pages 393 - 436.
  2. Baird, Sarah & Chirwa, Ephraim & McIntosh, Craig & Ozler, Berk, 2009. "The short-term impacts of a schooling conditional cash transfer program on the sexual behavior of young women," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5089, The World Bank.
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  12. Baird, Sarah & Özler, Berk, 2012. "Examining the reliability of self-reported data on school participation," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 89-93.
  13. Esther Duflo, 2011. "Women's Empowerment and Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 17702, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Shelly J. Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak & Terence J. Wales, 1997. "Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources? Evidence from the United Kingdom Child Benefit," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 463-480.
  16. 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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