The Household and Individual-level Economic Impacts of Cash Transfer Programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa

Synthesis Report

image of The Household and Individual-level Economic Impacts of Cash Transfer Programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa

This report synthesizes the analysis and findings of a set of seven country impact evaluation studies that explore the impact of cash transfer programmes on household economic decision-making, productive activities and labour allocation in sub-Saharan Africa. The seven countries are Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Results from seven recently completed rigorous impact evaluations of government-run unconditional social cash transfer programmes in sub-Saharan Africa show that these programmes have significant positive impacts on the livelihoods of beneficiary households. In Zambia, the Child Grant programme had large and positive impacts across an array of income generating activities. The impact of the programmes in Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi and Zimbabwe were more selective in nature, while the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty programme in Ghana had fewer direct impacts on productive activities, and more on various dimensions of risk management.




Cash transfers have become a primary means of promoting social protection in developing countries. In general, cash transfer programmes provide cash to beneficiary households with the objective of alleviating poverty while at the same time contributing to long-term poverty reduction (Fiszbein et al., 2009; Slater, 2011). As cash transfers are key components of social protection strategies, understanding their impact on social outcomes is critical. A large body of literature has emerged on the social impacts of cash transfers, which focused primarily on the health, nutrition and schooling of the children of the poor (Fiszbein et al., 2009; Adato and Hoddinott, 2010; Handa, Devereux and Webb, 2010). Yet cash transfers may have more than just social impacts, leading also to economic impacts, a dimension that has not received much attention in cash transfer impact evaluation literature. For this reason, this report examines the impacts of cash transfers on economic activities, productive investment and labour supply.


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