NOVAFRICA Webinar: “Benchmarking a Child Nutrition Program against Cash: Experimental Evidence from Rwanda”

On Wednesday, May 19th, at 02.30 pm, Lisbon time, the NOVAFRICA Center welcomes Andrew Zeitlin from Georgetown University to present his work on Benchmarking a Child Nutrition Program against Cash: Experimental Evidence from Rwanda.

Author: Andrew Zeitlin, Georgetown University

Abstract: We present the results of a study that benchmarks a multi-dimensional child nutrition intervention against the same donor program cost being disbursed directly to beneficiary households to spend as they see fit. Randomized variation in cash transfer amounts allows us to estimate impacts of cash transfers at expenditure levels equivalent to the in-kind program, as well as to estimate the return to increasing cash transfer values.  Focusing on poor households with children or pregnant mothers, we find that neither the in-kind program nor a cost-equivalent transfer of \$134 per household moves core child outcomes within a year.  By contrast, a much larger cash transfer of more than \$500 improves consumption and investment outcomes, as well as driving modest improvements in dietary diversity and child growth.  We find little evidence of heterogeneity that would allow overall benefits to be improved by selectively targeting modalities, whether by pre-selected characteristics or machine learning.  We find one-time cash transfers to generate as much benefit as a flow of transfers across 12 months, and little additional benefit from allowing households to choose their cash modality.  Our methodology allows us to contrast a comparative cost effectiveness approach with one that looks at differential impacts across programs at a cost equivalent level.

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