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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. Marianne Bertrand & Douglas Miller & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2000. "Public Policy and Extended Families: Evidence from South Africa," NBER Working Papers 7594, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 2003. "Does Matching Overcome Lalonde's Critique of Nonexperimental Estimators?," University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 20035, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
  3. Thomas, D., 1995. "Like Father, Like Son, Like Mother, Like Daughter, Parental Resources and Child Height," Papers 95-01, RAND - Reprint Series.
  4. Anne Case & Victoria Hosegood & Frances Lund, 2005. "The reach and impact of Child Support Grants: evidence from KwaZulu-Natal," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(4), pages 467-482.
  5. Cally Ardington & Anne Case & Victoria Hosegood, 2007. "Labor Supply Responses to Large Social Transfers: Longitudinal Evidence from South Africa," NBER Working Papers 13442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Stephan Klasen & Ingrid Woolard, 2001. "Surviving Unemployment without State Support: Unemployment and Household Formation in South Africa," CESifo Working Paper Series 533, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Edmonds, Eric V., 2007. "Child Labor," IZA Discussion Papers 2606, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Anne Case, 2004. "Does Money Protect Health Status? Evidence from South African Pensions," NBER Chapters, in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 287-312 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. World Bank, 2006. "Repositioning Nutrition as Central to Development : A Strategy for Large Scale Action," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7409.
  11. John Strauss & Duncan Thomas, 1998. "Health, Nutrition, and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 766-817, June.
  12. Cameron,A. Colin & Trivedi,Pravin K., 2005. "Microeconometrics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521848053, 1.
  13. 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.
  14. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 2002. "Propensity Score-Matching Methods For Nonexperimental Causal Studies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 151-161, February.
  15. Thomas, D., 1989. "Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach," Papers 586, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Jorge M. Agüero & Michael R. Carter & Ingrid Woolard, 2007. "The Impact of Unconditional Cash Transfers on Nutrition: The South African Child Support Grant," Working Papers 39, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
  21. James J. Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Petra E. Todd, 1997. "Matching As An Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 605-654.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
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