Essays on Poverty Alleviation and Health Promotion in East Africa
This dissertation consists of three papers on anti-poverty and health promotion interventions in East and Southern Africa. Attempts to target health goods such as bed nets to poor populations may prove ineffective if households resell these goods. However, wealth and endowment effects militate against the sale of in-kind transfers. The first paper quantifies these effects through a randomized experiment in which households received nets for free, received a cash transfer and the opportunity to purchase nets, or received only the opportunity to purchase nets with their own resources. The results indicate that very few nets will be resold by recipient households. The second paper concerns the intra-household allocation of mosquito nets. The proportion of children five years and younger who slept under a mosquito net was 20 percent higher when nets were distributed for free compared to when an equivalent cash transfer could be used to purchase nets. Controlling for the number of nets acquired, those received for free were more likely to be used by young children, whereas purchased nets were more often used by those members of the household to suffer from malaria most frequently. The net impact of food aid receipt on farm households? production decisions is theoretically ambiguous. The third paper uses household survey and meteorological data from Malawi to analyze the effect of receiving food aid on labor supply and input use. Using a lagged weather index as an instrument for food aid receipt, it is shown that households who received food aid allocated more labor time to own farm and non-farm enterprise activities, and less time to unskilled wage labor, and spent more on seeds.
malaria; food aid; intra-household allocation; bednets; field experiment; willingness to pay
dissertation or thesis