Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Effect of the Mchinji Social Cash Transfer Pilot Scheme on Children's Schooling, Work and Health Outcomes: A Multilevel Study using Experimental Data

This dissertation examines whether the Mchinji Social Cash Transfer Pilot Scheme (SCTPS), implemented in a rural district in central Malawi, improved schooling, work and health outcomes for children ages 6-17. Effects of individual level (orphan status and child's gender) and household level factors (working-age adults and sick adults) on the outcomes are also studied. The study uses panel data collected in 2007-2008 from a randomized controlled evaluation study. This dissertation is unique in its use of multilevel methods. Also, this is the first study to report on the impact of an unconditional cash transfer program on health outcomes for school-age children. The first paper shows that the Mchinji SCTPS increased school enrollment, decreased days missed from school and reduced children's time spent in economic work activities. Although, transfers increased the number of and time spent in domestic work activities, the number of hours worked remained relatively low. While girls were more advantaged in education they were disadvantaged in child work compared to boys. A larger number of working-age adults in a household was associated with reduced work burden on children. Contrary to other research, orphans in this study were not disadvantaged in schooling and work outcomes relative to non-orphans. The second paper shows that compared to children in non-beneficiary households, those in beneficiary households had lower odds of child illness and serious illness that stopped normal activities. An increase in the household number of working-age adults was associated with lower odds of child illness and health care use. An increase in the household number of sick adults increased the odds of child illness, serious illness and health care use. No statistically significant differences were observed by orphan status and child's gender. Study findings suggest that unconditional programs have the potential to improve outcomes for older children in sub-Saharan Africa. Further research is needed to understand the causal pathways or mechanisms through which Mchinji SCTPS impacts children's outcomes. Going forward, in addition to poverty, unconditional cash transfer programs in Malawi and other sub-Saharan countries should consider other factors that reflect household vulnerabilities or constraints as eligibility criteria, such as adult morbidity.