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Direct and indirect effects of Malawi?s public works program on food security

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  • Beegle,Kathleen G.
  • Galasso,Emanuela
  • Goldberg,Jessica Ann

Abstract

Labor-intensive public works programs are important social protection tools in low-income settings, intended to supplement income of poor households and improve public infrastructure. In this evaluation of the Malawi Social Action Fund, an at-scale, government-operated program, across- and within-village randomization is used to estimate effects on food security and use of fertilizer. There is no evidence that the program improves food security, and some negative spillovers to untreated households. These disappointing results hold even under modifications to the design of the program to offer work during the lean rather than harvest season or increase the frequency of payments.

Suggested Citation

  • Beegle,Kathleen G. & Galasso,Emanuela & Goldberg,Jessica Ann, 2015. "Direct and indirect effects of Malawi?s public works program on food security," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7505, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:7505
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    Cited by:

    1. Gehrke, Esther & Hartwig, Renate, 2018. "Productive effects of public works programs: What do we know? What should we know?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 111-124.
    2. Jules Gazeaud & Eric Mvukiyehe & Olivier Sterck, 2019. "Cash Transfers and Migration: Theory and Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial," CSAE Working Paper Series 2019-16, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    3. Bhanot, Syon P. & Han, Jiyoung & Jang, Chaning, 2018. "Workfare, wellbeing and consumption: Evidence from a field experiment with Kenya’s urban poor," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 372-388.
    4. Basurto, Maria Pia & Dupas, Pascaline & Robinson, Jonathan, 2020. "Decentralization and efficiency of subsidy targeting: Evidence from chiefs in rural Malawi," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 185(C).
    5. David Lagakos & Mushfiq Mobarak & Michael Waugh, 2018. "The Welfare Effects of Encouraging Rural-Urban Migration," Working Papers 2018-002, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    6. Dhahri, Sabrine & Omri, Anis, 2020. "Foreign capital towards SDGs 1 & 2—Ending Poverty and hunger: The role of agricultural production," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 208-221.
    7. Rafael P. Ribas, 2020. "Liquidity constraints, spillovers, and entrepreneurship: evidence from a cash transfer program," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 55(4), pages 1131-1158, December.
    8. Imbert, Clément & Papp, John, 2020. "Costs and benefits of rural-urban migration: Evidence from India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C).
    9. Jules Gazeaud & Victor Stephane, 2020. "Productive workfare? Evidence from Ethiopia’s productive safety net program," NOVAFRICA Working Paper Series wp2003, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Economia, NOVAFRICA.
    10. Omotilewa, Oluwatoba J. & Ricker-Gilbert, Jacob & Ainembabazi, John Herbert & Shively, Gerald E., 2018. "Does improved storage technology promote modern input use and food security? Evidence from a randomized trial in Uganda," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 176-198.
    11. World Bank Group, 2017. "Republic of Malawi Poverty Assessment," World Bank Other Operational Studies 26488, The World Bank.
    12. Clement Imbert & Marlon Seror & Yifan Zhang & Stephan Yanos Zylberberg, 2018. "Migrants and Firms: Evidence from China," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 19/713, School of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    13. Karthik Muralidharan & Paul Niehaus & Sandip Sukhtankar, 2017. "General Equilibrium Effects of (Improving) Public Employment Programs: Experimental Evidence from India," NBER Working Papers 23838, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Agha Ali Akram & Shyamal Chowdhury & Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, 2017. "Effects of Emigration on Rural Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 23929, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Kate Ambler & Alan de Brauw & Susan Godlonton, 2018. "Rural Labor Market Responses to Large Lumpy Cash Transfers: Evidence from Malawi," Department of Economics Working Papers 2018-11, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    16. Merfeld, Joshua D., 2019. "Spatially heterogeneous effects of a public works program," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 151-167.
    17. Kilic,Talip & Van den Broeck,Goedele & Koolwal,Gayatri B. & Moylan,Heather G., 2020. "Are You Being Asked ? Impacts of Respondent Selection on Measuring Employment," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9152, The World Bank.
    18. Cho, Yoon Y. & Ruthbah, Ummul, 2018. "Does Workfare Work Well? The Case of the Employment Generation Program for the Poorest in Bangladesh," IZA Discussion Papers 11473, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    19. Merfeld, Joshua D, 2017. "Spatially Heterogeneous Effects of a Public Works Program," MPRA Paper 80630, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Imbert, Clément & Papp, John, 2018. "Costs and Benefits of Seasonal Migration : Evidence from India," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1161, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    21. Galdo,Jose & Dammert,Ana C. & Abebaw,Degnet, 2020. "Gender Bias in Agricultural Child Labor : Evidence from Survey Design Experiments," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9410, The World Bank.
    22. Brune, Lasse & Kerwin, Jason T., 2019. "Income timing and liquidity constraints: Evidence from a randomized field experiment," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 294-308.
    23. Brune, Lasse & Giné, Xavier & Goldberg, Jessica & Yang, Dean, 2017. "Savings defaults and payment delays for cash transfers: Field experimental evidence from Malawi," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 1-13.
    24. Sabrine Dhahri & Anis Omri, 2020. "Are international capital flows really matter for achieving SDGs 1 and 2: ending poverty and hunger?," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 156(4), pages 731-767, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Food Security; Small Area Estimation Poverty Mapping; Regional Economic Development; Rural Poverty Reduction; Food&Beverage Industry;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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