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Despite improvements over the last two decades, child malnutrition remains a serious health problem in developing countries and is the main contributor to child mortality. In light of research that has cast doubt on whether nutrition responds at all to income increases amongst poor families, South Africa’s Child Support Grant, an unconditional cash transfer program, may seem surprising. However, analysis of the Child Support Grant cash transfers, which are given almost exclusively to women, offers a sharper look at whether such income increases targeted at women reveal a greater impact in child nutrition, as measured by child height-for-age.
Michael Carter, Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin at Madison, and his co-authors argue that Child Support Grants significantly boost children’s height. The study also finds that the cash transfers are cost-effective on strictly economic criteria: projected earnings among children whose primary caregivers received support payments under the program increased beyond the present value of the cash transfer itself. Emmanuel Skoufias, Senior Economist, World Bank, served as a discussant for this event.