Testing Paternalism: Cash versus In-Kind Transfers
Cunha, Jesse M.
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Welfare programs are often implemented in-kind to promote outcomes that might not be realized under cash transfers. This paper tests whether such paternalistically motivated transfers are justified compared to cash, using a randomized controlled trial of Mexico’s food assistance program. In relation to total food consumption, the in-kind transfer was infra-marginal and nondistorting. However, the transfer contained ten food items, and there was large variation in the extent to which individual foods were extra-marginal and distorting. Small differences in the nutritional intake of women and children under in-kind transfers did not lead to meaningful differential improvements in health outcomes compared to cash.
The article of record as published may be located at http://dx.doi.org/10.1257/app.6.2.195