Cash transfers to mothers or fathers: educational and health impacts of a randomized experiment in Burkina Faso

Richard Akresh, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Damien de Walque, World Bank Group
Harounan Kazianga, Oklahoma State University

We conducted a unique randomized experiment to estimate the impact of alternative cash transfer delivery mechanisms on educational and health outcomes in rural Burkina Faso. The two-year pilot program randomly distributed cash transfers that were either conditional or unconditional and were given to either mothers or fathers. In this paper, we focus on the comparison of the results obtained when the transfers are given to mothers vs. fathers. We verify that baseline socio-demographic characteristics and outcome variables are well balanced across the four cash transfer groups and the control group. For the educational outcomes, cash transfers given to the mothers have generally significantly larger impacts in increasing enrollments of school-going age children than cash transfers given to fathers. Results are similar when enrollment is measured using self-reports by the household and information collected from the school registers. No significant impacts of the cash transfers are found for school attendance and test scores. The cash transfers also have positive impacts on the health status of children aged 0 to 60 months as measured by anthropometric measurements (weight-for-age z-scores, arm circumference-for-age z-scores, height-for-age z-scores), reports of illness episodes and health clinic utilization in case of illness. For those health outcomes, transfers to mothers do not have a significantly larger impact than transfers to fathers and in some cases, for the anthropometric outcomes, it is the transfers to fathers that have a statistically larger impact.

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Presented in Poster Session 2