Innocenti Working Papers

The UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre (IRC) was created to strengthen UNICEF's research capability and to support its advocacy for children worldwide. The Working Papers (formerly Innocenti Occasional Papers), are the foundation of the Centre's research output, underpinning many of the Centre's other publications. These high quality research papers are aimed at an academic and well-informed audience, contributing to ongoing discussion on a wide range of child-related issues.


The Effect of Cash Transfers and Household Vulnerability on Food Insecurity in Zimbabwe

We study the impact of the Zimbabwe Harmonized Social Cash Transfer (HSCT) on household food security after 12 months of implementation. The programme has had a strong impact on a well-known food security scale – the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) – but muted impacts on food consumption expenditure. However aggregate food consumption hides dynamic activity taking place within the household where the cash is used to obtain more food from the market and rely less on food received as gifts. The cash in turn gives them greater choice in their food basket which improves diet diversity. Further investigation of the determinants of food consumption and the HFIAS shows that several dimensions of household vulnerability correlate more strongly with the HFIAS than food consumption. Labour constraints, which is a key vulnerability criterion used by the HSCT to target households, is an important predictor of the HFIAS but not food expenditure, and its effect on food security is even larger during the lean season.


Keywords: Zimbabwe, cash transfers, food insecurity, vulnerability
JEL: I31: Health, Education, and Welfare / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty / General Welfare; Well-Being; D12: Microeconomics / Household Behavior and Family Economics / Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis; I38: Health, Education, and Welfare / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty: Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs; I32: Health, Education, and Welfare / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty / Measurement and Analysis of Poverty; D60: Microeconomics / Welfare Economics / Welfare Economics: General
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