The effect of gender targeting of food transfers on child nutritional status: experimental evidence from the Bolivian amazon

Jonathan Bauchet*, Eduardo Undurraga, Ariela Zycherman, Jere Behrman, William Leonard, Ricardo Godoy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Some research suggests women are more likely to allocate additional resources to their children than are men. This perception has influenced policies such as in-kind food transfer programmes and cash transfer programmes, which often target women recipients. We assess whether targeting in-kind rice transfers to female versus male adult household members has a differential impact on children’s short-run nutritional status. We estimate the impacts of transfers of edible rice and rice seeds, randomly allocated to female or male adults, on three anthropometric indicators: BMI-for-age, arm-muscle area, and triceps skinfold thickness. The trial includes 481 children aged 3–11 years in a horticultural-foraging society of native Amazonians in Bolivia. On average, the gender of the transfer recipient does not influence child anthropometric dimensions, possibly due to norms of cooperation and sharing within and between households. We find limited evidence of heterogeneity in impacts. Transfers to women help children who were growth stunted at baseline to partially catch-up to their better-nourished age-sex peers and help boys (but not girls) and children in higher-income households increase their BMI-for-age. The results of this research point to the importance of considering cultural context in determining if allocating food transfers according to gender are most effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-291
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Development Effectiveness
Volume13
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Bolivia
  • Tsimane’
  • in-kind transfers
  • indigenous people
  • randomised controlled trial
  • rice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development

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