Benjamin Davis

Benjamin Davis
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations | FAO · Agricultural Development Economics Division (ESA)

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161
Publications
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Featured research
Article
Full-text available
Silvio Daidone is a economist and Benjamin Davis is a Strategic Program Leader, both with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy. Sudhanshu Handa is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Paul Winters is the Associate Vice-President of the Strategy and Knowledge Department, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Rome, Italy. The research presented in this article has been carried out under the auspices of the "From Protection to Production" (PtoP) project, a collaborative effort of the United Nations Children's Fund, the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The project has received funding from the DFID Research and Evidence Division, the European Union through the "Improved Global Governance for Hunger Reduction Programme", and the FAO Regular Fund. The authors would like to thank the following: two anonymous reviewers and the journal editor, who have provided excellent comments and significantly contributed to the improvement of the article; Alejandro Grinspun, Fabio Veras Soares, and Marco Knowles for technical review of previous drafts; Ervin Prifti and Noemi Pace for their useful suggestions and comments. The authors are also grateful to participants at the following conferences and workshops: 2017 APPAM International Conference, Brussels; 2016 Transfer Project workshop, Addis Ababa; 2016 IFAD-3IE Designing and implementing high-quality, policy-relevant impact evaluations, Rome; 2015 SASPEN Conference on Social Protection, Johannesburg; 2015 Global Food Security Conference, Ithaca; 2014 IPEA International Seminar "Social protection, entrepreneurship and labor market activation - Evidence for better policies", Brasilia; 2014 University of Florence, Department of Economics & Management Seminars, Florence; 2014 Africa Community of Practice (CoP) on Conditional Cash Transfers and Cash Transfers; 2014 African Union Expert Consultation on Children and Social Protection Systems, Cape Town; 2014 IDS Graduation and Social Protection Conference, Kigali. The authors would also like to remember Josh Dewbre, a founding member of the PtoP team, who passed away in April 2015, who had participated in the fieldwork and in the analysis of several programs included in this study. All mistakes and omissions are those of the authors.
Chapter
Full-text available
The analysis of impact evaluation studies shows that cash transfer programs overall have important implications for household resilience. By providing a steady and predictable source of income, cash transfer programs can build human capital, improve food security, and potentially strengthen households’ ability to respond to and cope with exogenous shocks, allowing them to diversity and strengthen their livelihoods to prevent future fluctuations in consumption. Many of the programs studied increased investment in agricultural inputs and assets, including farm implements and livestock. Beneficiaries in the studied country programs generally increased the volume and value of their crop production. Although differing across countries, food security indicators revealed increases in the proportion of food-secure households owing to cash transfer programs, as well as increases in consumption and dietary diversity. Although the impacts on risk management are less uniform, the cash transfer programs seem to strengthen community ties (via increased giving and receiving of transfers), allow households to save and pay off debts, and decrease the need to rely on adverse risk-coping mechanisms. Finally, the case study of the CGP in Zambia demonstrates the potential for cash transfers to help poor households manage climate risk. Not only was CGP receipt associated with increases in total, food, and nonfood expenditure, and subsequently the quantity and quality of food consumed, but the program was also found to benefit households even when they were facing climate shocks. The CGP’s climate-mitigating effect is particularly evident for households at the lowest quintiles of the distribution, meaning that the cash transfer protected poorer households better than richer households against climate variability. Thus, cash transfers can improve poor households’ resilience in the face of an uncertain climate future.
Article
Full-text available
In Africa, state-sponsored cash transfer programs now reach nearly 50 million people. Do these programs raise long-term living standards? We examine this question using experimental data from two unconditional cash transfer programs implemented by the Zambian Government. We find far-reaching effects of the programs both on food security and consumption as well as on a range of productive outcomes. After three years, household spending is on average 67 percent larger than the value of the transfer received, implying a sizeable multiplier effect, which works through increased non-farm activity and agricultural production.

Publications

Publications (161)
Article
This paper contributes to the literature on the determinants of rural livelihood diversification and its impact on household welfare in the short and medium term using data from a government-run social protection program in Zimbabwe. First, this study investigates whether cash transfers originally intended to ensure minimum food security in the poo...
Article
Even prior to COVID, there was a considerable push for food system transformation to achieve better nutrition and health as well as environmental and climate change outcomes. Recent years have seen a large number of high visibility and influential publications on food system transformation. Literature is emerging questioning the utility and scope o...
Article
This paper analyses the causal effects of the Zimbabwe Harmonized Social Cash Transfer (HSCT) programme on food security and nutrition after 12 months of implementation. Through mediation analysis, we disentangle the total effect of the programme on its direct effect due to the greater liquidity of beneficiary households, which increases the afford...
Article
We estimate the average treatment effect (ATE) of cash transfers on farm profitability by exploiting a randomised control trial for the evaluation Lesotho’s biggest transfer program. We also explore impact heterogeneity by unpacking the ATE into group-specific parameters. We estimate conditional average treatment effects to describe how treatment e...
Article
This paper focuses on the role of unconditional cash transfers in helping smallholders’ commercialization by overcoming barriers to trade from transaction costs. We use data from a controlled experiment for the evaluation of the Child Grant model in Zambia. We employ a Heckman model that allows us to capture the effects of the program on the propen...
Article
We examine the environmental impacts of a cash transfer program in rural Zambia and investigate whether variation in market access is associated with heterogeneous impacts on natural resource use. We consider households’ use of firewood, charcoal, bushmeat and land for farming, as well as their ownership of non-farm businesses. We find that cash tr...
Article
Full-text available
Silvio Daidone is a economist and Benjamin Davis is a Strategic Program Leader, both with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy. Sudhanshu Handa is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Paul Winters is the Associate Vice-President of the Strategy and Knowledge Department, International Fu...
Article
This paper has the double aim to study whether unconditional cash transfers have an impact on farm production and to look into the causal mechanisms through which government transfers produce productive impacts. We use mediation analysis to identify the total effect of transfers on farm production and to isolate the influence of the labour channel...
Chapter
Full-text available
The analysis of impact evaluation studies shows that cash transfer programs overall have important implications for household resilience. By providing a steady and predictable source of income, cash transfer programs can build human capital, improve food security, and potentially strengthen households’ ability to respond to and cope with exogenous...
Article
Over the past decade, several African governments have launched cash transfer (CT) programmes as part of social protection systems, with the aim of reducing poverty and hunger. Such programmes can also have significant impacts on rural livelihoods by inducing investments in productive activities and changing household labour allocation. In this pap...
Article
Cash transfer programs pursue mainly protective objectives, but can also impact rural livelihoods by inducing investments in productive activities and changing household labor allocation. We adopt a continuous treatment approach to quantify how households’ labor supply responds to transfer size. We find a shift from paid labor to own farm labor and...
Article
Cash transfer programmes have been shown to have positive effects on a variety of outcomes. While much of the literature focuses on the role of conditionality in achieving desired impact, this paper focuses on the role of ‘soft conditionality’ implemented through both ‘labelling’ and ‘messaging’ in evaluating the impact of the Child Grants Program...
Article
Over the past decade, several African governments have launched Cash Transfer (CT) programmes as part of their social protection systems, with the aim of reducing poverty. Such programmes can also have significant productive impacts. We use data from four major CT programmes implemented in sub‐Saharan Africa to estimate their impacts on labour supp...
Article
Full-text available
In Africa, state-sponsored cash transfer programs now reach nearly 50 million people. Do these programs raise long-term living standards? We examine this question using experimental data from two unconditional cash transfer programs implemented by the Zambian Government. We find far-reaching effects of the programs both on food security and consump...
Chapter
Full-text available
Several new initiatives of cash transfer programmes have recently emerged in sub-Saharan Africa, and most target poor rural households dependent on subsistence agriculture. This paper synthesizes the key findings of From Protection to Production Project (PtoP) of FAO and discusses the role of cash transfer programmes risk management tool to increas...
Article
Full-text available
We assess the role of social cash transfer programmes against the negative effect of weather risk on rural households' welfare using experimental impact evaluation data from Zambia. We find strong evidence that cash transfer has a mitigating role against the negative effects of weather shocks. Our results in fact highlight how important social cash...
Article
Full-text available
This paper investigates the interplay between the Social Cash Transfer Programme (SCTP) and the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) in Malawi. We take advantage of data collected from a seventeen-month evaluation of a sample of households eligible to receive SCTP, which also provided information about inclusion into FISP. We estimate two types of s...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Cash transfer programmes are increasingly being used to combat poverty and hunger as well as to shape the human capital of future generations. Even though most of these programmes are not explicitly designed to help households manage climate risk, there are good reasons to expect that cash transfers can help build household resilience against clima...
Article
Over the past decade, several African governments have launched cash transfer (CT) programmes as part of social protection systems, with the aim of reducing poverty and hunger. Such programmes can also have significant impacts on rural livelihoods by inducing investments in productive activities and changing household labour allocation. In this pap...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper we summarize evidence on six perceptions associated with cash transfer programming, using eight rigorous evaluations conducted on large-scale government unconditional cash transfers in sub-Saharan Africa, under the Transfer Project. Specifically, we investigate if transfers: 1) induce higher spending on alcohol or tobacco; 2) are full...
Article
In July 2013 FAO Lesotho began a pilot initiative called the Linking Food Security to Social Protection Programme (LFSSP). The programme's objective was to improve the food security of poor and vulnerable households by providing vegetable seeds and training on improved homestead gardening. The programme was intentionally provided to households elig...
Article
Full-text available
This paper uses comparable income aggregates from 41 national household surveys from 22 countries to explore the patterns of income generation among rural households in Sub-Saharan Africa, and to compare household income strategies in Sub-Saharan Africa with those in other regions. The paper seeks to understand how geography drives these strategies...
Article
This paper explores the extent to which government-run cash transfer programs in four sub-Saharan countries affect food security and nutritional outcomes. These programs include Ghana's Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty, Kenya's Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children, Lesotho's Child Grants Program and Zambia's Child Grant model of...
Article
Both agricultural interventions and social protection interventions are needed for combatting hunger and poverty among poor smallholder farmers. Yet, coordination between these two sectors is generally limited and, until recently, little attention has been paid to the interaction between them and how this potentially improves rural livelihoods. Our...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report uses data collected from a randomized experimental design impact evaluation to analyse the impact of the Malawi Social Cash Transfer Programme (SCTP) on household decision-making over agricultural production, labour supply, the accumulation of private assets and other income generating activities. The general framework for empirical ana...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report uses data from a two-year impact evaluation to analyse the impact of the Ethiopia Social Cash Transfer Pilot Programme (SCTPP) on household behaviour and decision-making, including agricultural production and other income-generating activities, labour supply, the accumulation of productive assets, access to credit and food security. The...
Conference Paper
Cash transfer programmes are increasingly being utilized in order to combat poverty and hunger as well as to building the human capital of future generations. Even though most of these programmes are not explicitly designed to help households manage climate risk, there are good reasons to expect that cash transfers can be good instrument to build h...
Article
Accumulated evidence from dozens of cash transfer (CT) programs across the world suggests that there are few interventions that can match the range of impacts and cost-effectiveness of a small, predictable monetary transfer to poor families in developing countries. However, individual published impact assessments typically focus on only one program...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This document constitutes the quantitative impact evaluation report of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) Program of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), Government of Ghana. The impact evaluation is implemented by a consortium of partners including the Institute for Statistical, Social and Economic Resear...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report uses data from a twenty-four-month randomized experimental design impact evaluation to analyse the impact of the Lesotho Child Grant Programme (CGP) on individual and household economic decision-making including labour supply, the accumulation of productive assets and other productive activities. The general framework for empirical anal...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This paper presents findings from an impact evaluation of a combination of two types of agricultural and social protection programmes: the Lesotho Child Grant Programme (CGP) and the FAO-Lesotho Linking Food Security to Social Protection Programme (LFSSP). Overall we find positive effects of the programmes on homestead gardening and productive agri...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report uses data from a 24-month randomized experimental design impact evaluation to analyse the impact of the Zambia Child Grant Programme (CGP) on individual and household decision making including labour supply, the accumulation of productive assets and other productive activities. The general framework for empirical analysis is based on a...
Technical Report
Full-text available
In this report we analysed baseline household level data collected in 2013 for the expansion phase of the Malawi Social Cash Transfer programme and focused on sections related to economic activities.
Article
Africa's social cash transfer programs target the most resource-constrained households, unlikely to expand supply in response to transfer-induced demand. We propose a local economy-wide impact evaluation model and use it to evaluate local spillovers from Lesotho's Child Grants Program. We report Monte-Carlo confidence bounds around impact-simulatio...
Article
Full-text available
In the last decade social cash transfer programmes have become extremely popular in sub-Saharan Africa, and are often portrayed as an instrument that can facilitate graduation out of poverty. The evidence on whether social cash transfers have had actual effects on graduation, however, is limited. This article provides a cross-country reflection of...