The Malawi Social Cash Transfer and the impact of $14 per month on child health

Type Journal Article - World Health
Title The Malawi Social Cash Transfer and the impact of $14 per month on child health
Volume 571
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2010
Page numbers 578-0
Objective: We assessed the impact of the Social Cash Transfer Scheme (SCTS), a monthly cash stipend of approximately US$14, on child health and nutrition in some of the poorest households in Malawi. While conditional cash transfer programs in Latin America have yielded encouraging impacts on child health, there is little evidence on the impact of unconditional cash transfers in Africa.
Data Sources: This mixed methods study, includes a longitudinal household survey with a panel of intervention and control households and qualitative interviews and focus groups. Quantitative data collection occurred before intervention households received the cash transfer at baseline and one year later, at endline, before comparison households became recipients. Qualitative data collection occurred after intervention households had received the cash for at least six consecutive months.
Study Selection: Study households were identified in a community targeting process separate from the evaluation study. Among clusters of 1,000 households, ten percent of households that were ultra poor (in the lowest expenditure quintile) and labor constrained (no able-bodied worker or unfavorable dependency ratio) were targeted to receive the transfer. For the evaluation, we randomly selected the targeted households in four village Draft in review. Please do not cite without permission from author. 4 clusters as the intervention group and households in another four village clusters as the comparison group.
Results: We present evidence that Malawian children benefit from the cash grant, both nutritionally and through better health with fewer illnesses. The greatest impacts include a 13 percentage point difference in the proportion of underweight 0 to 3-year-olds, a 0.5 centimeter gain in height among 5 to 18-year-olds, and a 10 percentage point reduction in reported illnesses among children aged 0 to 18 years in intervention versus comparison households.
Conclusions: In Malawi, the SCTS appears to have positive impacts on child health and growth, suggesting that conditional transfers may not be necessary for children to experience important gains in health.

Related studies