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Finding the benefits: Estimating the impact of the South African child support grant

The paper estimates the impact of the South African Child Support Grant (CSG) on child health, nutrition and education. Data from the 2008 South African National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) are used. Two non-experimental treatment evaluation techniques, both relying on propensity scores, are applied to six different outcome variables. Using propensity score matching with a binary outcome variable, no convincing evidence of improvements on any of the outcome variables is found. A second technique is therefore also applied, using a generalised form of the propensity scores. This follows the approach of Hirano and Imbens (2004) and Agüero et al. (2009). The generalised approach estimates a positive treatment effect for children’s height-for-age and progress through the school system. Although these estimates do provide some evidence of the positive effect of the Child Support Grant on the lives of children, the estimates are small and do not provide clear evidence that the transfers received by caregivers are spent mainly on improving the well-being of beneficiary children. Some potential and plausible explanations for this result are discussed in the paper. Nevertheless, the findings seem to suggest that some of the cash transferred through the Child Support Grant appears to be spent on improving the well-being of children.

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Paper provided by Economic Research Southern Africa in its series Working Papers with number 230.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rza:wpaper:230
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  1. Murray Leibbrandt & Ingrid Woolard & Arden Finn & Jonathan Argent, 2010. "Trends in South African Income Distribution and Poverty since the Fall of Apartheid," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 101, OECD Publishing.
  2. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan & Douglas Miller, 2003. "Public Policy and Extended Families: Evidence from Pensions in South Africa," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(1), pages 27-50, June.
  3. Anne Case, 2001. "Does Money Protect Health Status? Evidence from South African Pensions," NBER Working Papers 8495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Eric Edmonds, 2007. "Child Labor," Working Papers id:988, eSocialSciences.
  5. Anne Case & Victoria Hosegood & Frances Lund, 2004. "The Reach and Impact of Child Support Grants: Evidence from KwaZulu-Natal," Working Papers 241, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  6. Strauss, J. & Thomas, D., 1995. "Health, Nutrition and Economic development," Papers 95-23, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  7. Esther Duflo, 2000. "Grandmothers and Granddaughters: Old Age Pension and Intra-household Allocation in South Africa," NBER Working Papers 8061, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Klasen, Stephan & Woolard, Ingrid, 2000. "Surviving Unemployment without State Support: Unemployment and Household Formation in South Africa," IZA Discussion Papers 237, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Cally Ardington & Anne Case & Victoria Hosegood, 2007. "Labor supply responses to large social transfers: Longitudinal evidence from South Africa," Working Papers 59, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  10. Jorge M. Aguero & Michael R. Carter & Ingrid Woolard, 2006. "The Impact of Unconditional Cash Transfers on Nutrition: The South African Child Support Grant," SALDRU Working Papers 8, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
  11. A. Smith, Jeffrey & E. Todd, Petra, 2005. "Does matching overcome LaLonde's critique of nonexperimental estimators?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 305-353.
  12. Dehejia, R.H. & Wahba, S., 1998. "Propensity Score Matching Methods for Non-Experimental Causal Studies," Discussion Papers 1998_02, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  13. Thomas, D., 1989. "Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach," Papers 586, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  14. Sascha O. Becker & Andrea Ichino, 2002. "Estimation of average treatment effects based on propensity scores," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 2(4), pages 358-377, November.
  15. Edwin Leuven & Barbara Sianesi, 2003. "PSMATCH2: Stata module to perform full Mahalanobis and propensity score matching, common support graphing, and covariate imbalance testing," Statistical Software Components S432001, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 19 Jan 2015.
  16. Duncan Thomas, 1994. "Like Father, like Son; Like Mother, like Daughter: Parental Resources and Child Height," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(4), pages 950-988.
  17. LaLonde, Robert J, 1986. "Evaluating the Econometric Evaluations of Training Programs with Experimental Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 604-20, September.
  18. Van der Berg, Servaas & Louw, Megan & Burger, Ronelle, 2007. "Post-Apartheid South Africa: Poverty and Distribution Trends in an Era of Globalization," MPRA Paper 9065, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  19. World Bank, 2006. "Repositioning Nutrition as Central to Development : A Strategy for Large Scale Action," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7409.
  20. Suzanna Vidmar & John Carlin & Kylie Hesketh & Tim Cole, 2004. "Standardizing anthropometric measures in children and adolescents with new functions for egen," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 4(1), pages 50-55, March.
  21. Eric V. Edmonds, 2004. "Does Illiquidity Alter Child Labor and Schooling Decisions? Evidence from Household Responses to Anticipated Cash Transfers in South Africa," NBER Working Papers 10265, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra E, 1997. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 605-54, October.
  23. Marianne Bertrand & Douglas Miller & Sendhil Mullainathan, 1999. "Public Policy and Extended Families: Evidence from South Africa," Working Papers 801, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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