IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Transfers, diversification and household risk strategies : experimental evidence with lessons for climate change adaptation


  • Macours, Karen
  • Premand, Patrick
  • Vakis, Renos


While climate change is likely to increase weather risks in many developing countries, there is little evidence on effective policies to facilitate adaptation. This paper presents experimental evidence on a program in rural Nicaragua aimed at improving households'risk-management through income diversification. The intervention targeted agricultural households exposed to weather shocks related to changes in rainfall and temperature patterns. It combined a conditional cash transfer with vocational training or a productive investment grant. The authors identify the relative impact of each complementary package based on randomized assignment, and analyze how impacts vary by exposure to exogenous drought shocks. The results show that both complementary interventions provide full protection against drought shocks two years after the end of the intervention. Households that received the productive investment grant also had higher average consumption levels. The complementary interventions led to diversification of economic activities and better protection from shocks compared to beneficiaries of the basic conditional cash transfer and control households. These results show that combining safety nets with productive interventions can help households manage future weather risks and promote longer-term program impacts.

Suggested Citation

  • Macours, Karen & Premand, Patrick & Vakis, Renos, 2012. "Transfers, diversification and household risk strategies : experimental evidence with lessons for climate change adaptation," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6053, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6053

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Chris Elbers & Jan Willem Gunning & Bill Kinsey, 2007. "Growth and Risk: Methodology and Micro Evidence," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 21(1), pages 1-20.
    2. Shawn Cole & Xavier Gine & Jeremy Tobacman & Petia Topalova & Robert Townsend & James Vickery, 2013. "Barriers to Household Risk Management: Evidence from India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 104-135, January.
    3. de Janvry, Alain & Finan, Frederico & Sadoulet, Elisabeth & Vakis, Renos, 2006. "Can conditional cash transfer programs serve as safety nets in keeping children at school and from working when exposed to shocks?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 349-373, April.
    4. Fafchamps, Marcel & Udry, Christopher & Czukas, Katherine, 1998. "Drought and saving in West Africa: are livestock a buffer stock?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 273-305, April.
    5. Fafchamps, Marcel & McKenzie, David & McKenzie, David & Quinn, Simon & Woodruff, Christopher, 2011. "When is capital enough to get female enterprises growing ? evidence from a randomized experiment in Ghana," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5706, The World Bank.
    6. Stefan Dercon & Pramila Krishnan, 2003. "Food aid and informal insurance," CSAE Working Paper Series 2003-01, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    7. Marcel Fafchamps & David McKenzie & Simon Quinn & Christopher Woodruff, 2011. "When is capital enough to get female microenterprises growing? Evidence from a randomized experiment in Ghana," CSAE Working Paper Series 2011-11, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    8. Dercon, Stefan, 1996. "Risk, Crop Choice, and Savings: Evidence from Tanzania," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(3), pages 485-513, April.
    9. Maluccio, John A. & Flores, Rafael, 2005. "Impact evaluation of a conditional cash transfer program: the Nicaraguan Red de Protección Social," Research reports 141, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    10. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Binswanger, Hans P, 1993. "Wealth, Weather Risk and the Composition and Profitability of Agricultural Investments," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(416), pages 56-78, January.
    11. Ariel Fiszbein & Norbert Schady & Francisco H.G. Ferreira & Margaret Grosh & Niall Keleher & Pedro Olinto & Emmanuel Skoufias, 2009. "Conditional Cash Transfers : Reducing Present and Future Poverty," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2597, March.
    12. Takashi Yamano & Harold Alderman & Luc Christiaensen, 2005. "Child Growth, Shocks, and Food Aid in Rural Ethiopia," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(2), pages 273-288.
    13. Skoufias, Emmanuel, 2007. "Poverty alleviation and consumption insurance: Evidence from PROGRESA in Mexico," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 630-649, August.
    14. Blattman, Christopher & Fiala, Nathan & Martinez, Sebastian, 2011. "Employment generation in rural Africa : mid-term results from an experimental evaluation of the Youth Opportunities Program in Northern Uganda," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 66523, The World Bank.
    15. Orazio Attanasio & Adriana Kugler & Costas Meghir, 2011. "Subsidizing Vocational Training for Disadvantaged Youth in Colombia: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 188-220, July.
    16. Wolfram Schlenker & W. Michael Hanemann & Anthony C. Fisher, 2006. "The Impact of Global Warming on U.S. Agriculture: An Econometric Analysis of Optimal Growing Conditions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 113-125, February.
    17. Dercon, Stefan (ed.), 2004. "Insurance Against Poverty," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199276837.
    18. Richard Hornbeck & Pinar Keskin, 2011. "The Evolving Impact of the Ogallala Aquifer: Agricultural Adaptation to Groundwater and Climate," NBER Working Papers 17625, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Hoddinott, John & Kinsey, Bill, 2001. " Child Growth in the Time of Drought," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 63(4), pages 409-436, September.
    20. Paul J. Gertler & Sebastian W. Martinez & Marta Rubio-Codina, 2012. "Investing Cash Transfers to Raise Long-Term Living Standards," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 164-192, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Karen Macours & Renos Vakis, 2017. "Sustaining Impacts When Transfers End: Women Leaders, Aspirations, and Investments in Children," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of Poverty Traps National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Alexandria Valerio & Brent Parton & Alicia Robb, 2014. "Entrepreneurship Education and Training Programs around the World : Dimensions for Success," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 18031, March.
    3. Simone Schaner, 2016. "The Persistent Power of Behavioral Change: Long-Run Impacts of Temporary Savings Subsidies for the Poor," NBER Working Papers 22534, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Nicholas Kilimani, 2015. "Vulnerability to Climatic Variability: An Assessment of Drought Prevalence on Water Resources Availability and Implications for the Ugandan Economy," Working Papers 201562, University of Pretoria, Department of Economics.
    5. de la Fuente, Alejandro & Ortiz-Juarez, Eduardo & Rodriguez-Castelan, Carlos, 2015. "Living on the edge : vulnerability to poverty and public transfers in Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7165, The World Bank.
    6. repec:eee:labeco:v:45:y:2017:i:c:p:116-130 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Cho, Yoonyoung & Honorati, Maddalena, 2014. "Entrepreneurship programs in developing countries: A meta regression analysis," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 110-130.
    8. Maitra, Pushkar & Mani, Subha, 2017. "Learning and earning: Evidence from a randomized evaluation in India," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 116-130.
    9. Macours, Karen, 2012. "Volatility, Risk and Household Poverty: Micro-evidence from Randomized Control Trials," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 128293, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    10. Jonathan Colmer, 2013. "Climate Variability, Child Labour and Schooling: Evidence on the Intensive and Extensive Margin," GRI Working Papers 132, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    11. Asfaw, Solomon & Savastano, Sara, 2015. "Topic: Building Resilience to Climate Change Through Social Protection and Climate-Smart Agriculture: Synergies and Trade-offs," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 210963, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    12. Molina Millán, Teresa, 2015. "Regional Migration, Insurance and Economic Shocks: Evidence from Nicaragua," IZA Discussion Papers 9494, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Yoonyoung Cho, 2015. "Entrepreneurship for the poor in developing countries," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 167-167, July.
    14. Yoonyoung Cho & David Robalino & Samantha Watson, 2016. "Supporting self-employment and small-scale entrepreneurship: potential programs to improve livelihoods for vulnerable workers," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-26, December.
    15. Meza-Pale, Pablo & Yunez-Naude, Antonio, 2015. "The Effect of Rainfall Variation on Agricultural Households: Evidence from Mexico," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 212457, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    16. World Bank, "undated". "Latin America and the Caribbean Poverty and Labor Brief, June 2013 : Shifting Gears to Accelerate Shared Prosperity in Latin America and the Caribbean
      [Cambiando la velocidad para acelerar la prosp
      ," World Bank Other Operational Studies 15265, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    Safety Nets and Transfers; Regional Economic Development; Rural Poverty Reduction; Housing&Human Habitats;

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6053. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.