Experimental impacts of Tanzania’s conditional cash transfer on household investment choices

Project Active from to State and State Effectiveness

There has been a debate within Tanzania's government about whether to continue the Productive Social Safety Net (PSSN), a project which supports social insurance and assistance to the poorest households. Some policymakers have argued that the PSSN has had few results on children and negative labour supply effects by getting households “on the dole”, despite little evidence.

The aim of this research is to inform the debate among policymakers by taking a closer look at employment outcomes and child health and education. In particular, this study goes beyond the initial impact evaluation analyses, to define employment outcomes that are of specific interest and relevance to the policymakers.

In early discussions with the World Bank, the Government of Tanzania specifically had many questions about whether PSSN has impacted small business and asset investment, as well as worker outcomes. The original design for the PSSN included a workfare component, which was not fully implemented by the time the midline survey completed. As such, much of the analysis thus far has focused on understanding the impacts of the transfers on employment outcomes, as well as investments in productive assets.

The research team has made considerable efforts to write surveys that capture these outcomes in-depth and detail (e.g. through extensive information about agricultural inputs and outputs). The researchers are also examining the heterogeneity in these outcomes of interest to better understand the mechanisms through which beneficiaries respond to the transfers provided.

There are three avenues through which the project plans to influence policy.

  1. Research questions that have been defined in close collaboration with policymakers in Tanzania and ongoing conversations with policymakers have crucially shaped the analysis.
  2. Throughout the analysis process, Tanzania Social Action Fund will be directly engaged by communicating the results of the analyses and synthesising research into actionable policy guidance.
  3. The results from Tanzania will be connected to broader policy conversations surrounding cash transfers in low-income countries.