Cash Transfers and Women’s Economic Inclusion: Experimental evidence from Zambia
This paper investigates whether an increase in exogenous income through the Child Grants model of the Social Cash Transfer programme in Zambia fosters economic inclusion among rural women. We conceptualize economic inclusion as a transformative process comprised of four pillars: productive capacity, financial inclusion, social power, and psychological assets. Using experimental data, we find strong evidence of direct impacts of the Child Grant on the productive capacity, financial inclusion, and psychological assets of rural women. In addition to these direct impacts, we implement a mediation analysis to explore the potential mediating role of psychological assets in affecting the other pillars of economic inclusion. Through this approach, we find indicative evidence of indirect and mutually reinforcing relationships between changes in psychological assets brought about through the Child Grant and improvements in the productive capacity and financial inclusion of beneficiaries. Such results suggest that cash transfers might be effective in promoting women’s economic inclusion, both through the direct monetary effect and through the mediated effect of psychological assets.