Abstract: (WITHDRAWN) Effect of Cash Transfers on Children's Multidimensional Deprivation: Multilevel Longitudinal Analyses Using Data from the Uganda Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment Program (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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(WITHDRAWN) Effect of Cash Transfers on Children's Multidimensional Deprivation: Multilevel Longitudinal Analyses Using Data from the Uganda Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment Program

Friday, January 22, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Leyla Karimli, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Bijetri Bose, PhD, Research Associate, Harvard University, MA
Background and Purpose: Nearly 385 million children live in extreme poverty, at rates higher than those among adults; and the highest proportion of children in extreme poverty is concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa. Social protection program and policy responses to the problem of poverty include, inter alia, non-contributory monetary transfers including cash transfers. Extensive body of research points to some positive effects of cash transfers, specifically in terms of increasing household’s food expenditures, improving dietary diversity, boosting children’s school attendance, and reducing child poverty. These findings, however, are not conclusive: positive effects of cash transfers are not homogenous across all contexts. Furthermore, all existing evidence is either compartmentalized (i.e., it examines sector-specific child outcomes, such as, for example, education, health), or it analyzes child poverty measured solely in terms of household’s monetary deprivation. Defining child poverty solely in terms of household’s monetary deprivation poses challenges for the existing body of evidence—for the following reasons. First, it has been documented that individuals who are income poor differ from individuals who are poor on multiple dimensions. Therefore, comprehensive understanding of poverty calls for use of multidimensional poverty measures. Second, a growing body of evidence suggests that children experience poverty differently from adults; and, therefore, using household poverty to measure child well-being does not render an accurate picture of child poverty and deprivation.

To address this gap, we test the effect of unconditional cash transfer implemented in Uganda on multidimensional deprivation of children in the recipient families. The deprivation analyses addresses the aforementioned gap by taking a comprehensive approach that examines multiple dimensions of child poverty experienced simultaneously.

Methods: We use the longitudinal panel data collected within the Uganda Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment. The SAGE program targeted poor and vulnerable households offering them bimonthly unconditional cash transfers in the amount of 25,000 Ugandan Shillings (~7 USD) per month. The outcome of interest—multidimensional child’s deprivation—is measured using the multiple overlapping deprivation analyses (MODA) tool developed by UNICEF. The tool is based on the definition of child poverty as “deprivation of the material, spiritual, and emotional resources needed for children to survive, develop, and thrive”. The tool, thus, captures multiple dimensions of child poverty and deprivation (such as, for example, food security, access to clean water and sanitation, health care, education, adequate housing, access to information, child labor, and exposure to violence) experienced simultaneously. By doing so, the tool provides a more comprehensive picture of child wellbeing, as compared to monetary measures of child poverty. Furthermore, the measure focuses on child (and not the household) as the unit of analyses. It acknowledges that children’s needs are heterogeneous across their childhood, and, therefore, different age groups are examined separately.

Results: We found no effect of conditional cash transfers on multidimensional child’s deprivation, despite the effect of intervention on several deprivations tested separately.

Conclusions and Implications: To our knowledge, this is the first study that tests effect of cash transfers on multidimensional child deprivation, and it addresses a significant gap in the existing knowledge.