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The Impact of Social Cash Transfers on Poverty in Pakistan-A Case Study of Benazir Income Support Programme

Saeed, Muhammad Kashif and Hayat, Muhammad Azmat (2020): The Impact of Social Cash Transfers on Poverty in Pakistan-A Case Study of Benazir Income Support Programme.

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Abstract

Governments around the world often make social cash transfers to their residents for varied purposes such as consumption smoothing, poverty reduction, improved take-up of education and health services, etc. In Pakistan, these transfers took a big stride with the initiation of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) in 2008. Social cash transfers have multiple types of impacts e.g. on health, education, reproductive behavior, voting behavior etc. This study aims to investigate the existence of a relationship between social cash transfers and poverty. Specifically, the research question is: Is there any impact of BISP receipt on poverty in Pakistan? This research question is answered with the help of utilization of Household Integrated Economic Survey (HIES) 2015-16 (Government of Pakistan, 2017) which presents information on households’ consumption (used to measure poverty) as well as households’ cash transfer recipient status. Official poverty estimation methodology is used for defining the poverty status of a household. The relationship between cash transfers and poverty is studied through the nearest-neighbor matching method limiting ourselves to BISP. The findings show that there is no significant relationship between BISP cash transfer and poverty when full dataset is used and a negative but economically insignificant relationship when only people from the bottom consumption quintiles are considered. Based on these findings, way-forward in terms of future research and making necessary modifications in the programme design of BISP is suggested.

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