A growing body of evidence shows predominately protective effects of cash transfers on IPV. However, there is limited work, empirical or theoretical, on what happens when long running unconditional cash transfers stop. Understanding how households cope when cash transfers stop, either because they no longer meet the eligibility criterion because their economic position has improved or cuts to the funding pot result in a more stringent eligibility criterion, is crucial. This is because cash transfers are costly and may not be expected to provide support permanently. In addition, the anticipated effect of discontinuation is ambiguous: IPV may increase, reverting back to pre-transfer levels, or result in no changes if women have permanently increased their economic standing or empowerment. This study uses quasi-experimental methods to answer the question of what happens when cash transfers stop using the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) as a case study. BISP is Pakistan’s women-focused nationwide social assistance program running since 2008. Families selected for BISP have received stipends quarterly over the past ten years. However, the Government of Pakistan is in the process of revising the proxy means test to update eligibility listings, which will result in a shift of eligibility in early 2022. This study will collect quantitative survey data before and after the shift in eligibility among partnered women to answer the questions: (1) What is the impact on IPV when women-targeted cash transfers are discontinued (both on incidence and frequency of IPV)? (2) What are potential mechanisms driving impacts, including relationship quality, household and individual economic and social wellbeing?
Nasir Iqbal (Pakistan Institute of Development Economics), Mahreen Mahmud (University of Exeter), Kate Vyborny (Duke University), Amen Jalal (London School of Economics)
Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP)