Cash transfers, relationship dynamics, and IPV among youth in Malawi


Study description

Evidence on the effects of cash transfers on youth transitions to adulthood in Africa is growing. However, little is known about how cash transfers influence youth’s formation of romantic relationships and experience of IPV. This study investigates the impact of the Malawi Social Cash Transfer Programme (SCTP) on relationship dynamics and experience of IPV among young adults who were exposed to the program during a pivotal window while adolescents. The SCTP is an unconditional cash transfer program targeted to ultra-poor, labor-constrained households administered by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare (MoGCSW). The program began in 2006 and now covers 28 districts and reaches over 1.3 million individuals or 7% of the population. Between 2013 and 2015, UNC and collaborators under the Transfer Project conducted a two-year longitudinal randomized controlled trial, after which the control group was rolled into the program in 2016. Results from that evaluation showed a number of beneficial effects accrued to adolescents living in target households, including increases in schooling, and improvements in mental health, sexual and reproductive health and other safe transition outcomes. The proposed work includes both a quantitative follow-up of young adults who were first interviewed at baseline when they were 13-19 years of age, and a new nested qualitative study to answer the following questions: (1) How does the SCTP affect relationship dynamics—including partner characteristics and relationship quality—for young men and women? (2) How do relationship dynamics influence experience of IPV and SCTP impact on IPV among young women? (3) What mechanisms qualitatively underpin impacts of cash transfers on relationship formation and experience of IPV for young women?

For more information: Please visit the Malawi Transfer Project website

Lead researchers

Sudhanshu Handa, Audrey Pereira & Juba Kafumba (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Maxton Tsoka & Peter Mvula (University of Malawi)

Intervention (country)

Malawi Social Cash Transfer Program (SCTP) (Malawi)

Study design

Randomized controlled trial and embedded qualitative research