ICYMI: Cash Transfers, Polygamy, and Intimate Partner Violence: Evidence from Mali

IFPRI's Melissa Hidrobo presented her recent research about cash transfers, polygamy, and intimate partner violence in Mali last week. You can access her powerpoint slides here for more information.

SUMMARY:  Evidence shows that transfers targeted to women can reduce intimate partner violence (IPV), but little evidence exists on the effects of transfers targeted to men. Whereas impact pathways for transfers to women are posited to include increased women's empowerment and reduced household poverty-related stress and conflict, the former is unlikely to occur from transfers to men. Transfers to men are common in Africa, where household structure tends to differ from Latin America, the context for much of the existing evidence on IPV. We use data from a randomly-assigned national cash transfer program in Mali, targeted to (mostly male) household heads, to analyze impacts on IPV. Given high prevalence of polygamy in the sample, we disaggregate impacts by whether the household head is polygamous. We find that, on average, there are no reductions in IPV, but in the nearly 40% of households that are polygamous, there are significant reductions in physical and emotional IPV, as well as controlling behaviors. Analysis of mechanisms reveals significant reductions in the household head's stress and reductions in reported disputes only in polygamous households, confirming that poverty-related stress may drive the results. We discuss potential explanations for why patterns differ by polygamy status.

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