Can Cash Transfers have Long-term Effects on Rural Livelihoods in Poor Countries?

Last changed: 14 May 2024

Learning lessons from the effects of the child grant in South Africa.

Unconditional cash transfers have in the past decade received increased attention as a potential way of reducing poverty in the global South. Opinions differ however on whether cash transfers have only consumption effects or are able to produce long-term livelihood effects that can help people get out of poverty permanently.

This project aimed to generate evidence on the potentials of cash transfers to produce long-term livelihood effects, through evaluating the effects of 14 years of child support grants (CSG) on broader livelihoods and productive assets in in two poor rural communities in South Africa. A detailed survey of livelihood activities and assets of all households in the two communities (ca 250 households) was performed in 2002, just prior to to the roll-out of CSG in the area.

The project followed up with a survey in 2016, creating a data-set with long-term panel data to investigate possible differences in current livelihood between households that have recieved grants during most of the past 14 years and those who have not. Various factors that might have influenced the success or failure of the grant to produce lasting livelihood effects was investigated through in-depth interviews.

Findings were discussed with the affected villagers and with stakeholders in South Africa at a dissemiation workshop in 2018 with local researchers, government officials and NGOs. Findings were also published in academic articles, a PhD thesis and a popular scientific policy brief.

The project has resulted in the following open access publications:

Article in World Development Perspectives on the effects of child support grant on long-term livelihoods (OA)

Article in Journal of Southern African Studies on the changes in rural livelihoods 2002-2016 in rural South Africa (OA)

A PhD thesis defended 6 March 2020 by project PhD student Stefan Granlund, including the two articles above as well as two further articles on social-relational effects of the child support grant

A popular scientific Development Dissertation Brief


Project leader

Flora Hajdu, Researcher, Division of Rural Development, SLU
Read more on Flora Hajdu's CV page
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Stefan Granlund, Doctoral student, Division of Rural Development, SLU (-2020)

Dr. Tessa Hochfeld, Senior Researcher, Centre for Social Development in Africa, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

David Neves, Senior Researcher​, Programme of Land and Agrarian Studies, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

Project time


External funding

Formas dnr 2014-790

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