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The impact of conditional cash transfers on child nutrition

Dr. Seth Gitter (left) and Dr. James Manley
Dr. Seth Gitter (left) and Dr. James Manley

Towson, Md. (May 19, 2010): Starting this summer, James Manley and Seth Gitter, assistant professors in the Department of Economics, will begin investigating the impact of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs on child nutritional health with a $40,856 grant from the Department of International Development (DFID). The DFID is a British government-sponsored agency working to combat world poverty

CCTs are welfare programs that promote human development by providing monetary assistance to poor families when they participate in certain activities like attending school or visiting health centers. Currently operating in countries like Mexico, Brazil, Jamaica and Turkey, the CCTs have shown promise in reducing poverty, increasing consumption and improving cognitive development.  Although studies indicate increases in household wealth and total consumption, effects on children’s nutritional status have been mixed. Under this new grant, Manley and Gitter will review current CCT literature and identify studies that evaluate the impact of a CCT on nutritional status by focusing on the primary measure height for age. They will combine the estimates of various studies using statistical techniques, creating a “Meta-analysis” that they hope will identify broader trends that individual studies may have been too narrowly focused to see. “Governments around the world are spending billions of dollars on these programs, and it is crucial to identify conditions under which CCTs perform best,” says Manley. “By taking a step back and looking at the forest rather than the trees, we hope to uncover answers to some of the most important questions about CCTs. Do they improve child health, and if so, under what conditions?”

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