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Handa, Sudhanshu; Natali, Luisa; Seidenfeld, David; Tembo, Gelson; & Davis, Benjamin (2018). Can Unconditional Cash Transfers Raise Long-Term Living Standards? Evidence from Zambia. Journal of Development Economics, 133, 42-65. PMCID: PMC6687333


In Africa, state-sponsored cash transfer programs now reach nearly 50 million people. Do these programs raise long-term living standards? We examine this question using experimental data from two unconditional cash transfer programs implemented by the Zambian Government. We find far-reaching effects of the programs both on food security and consumption as well as on a range of productive outcomes. After three years, household spending is on average 67 percent larger than the value of the transfer received, implying a sizeable multiplier effect, which works through increased non-farm activity and agricultural production.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Development Economics


Handa, Sudhanshu
Natali, Luisa
Seidenfeld, David
Tembo, Gelson
Davis, Benjamin