I have not been updating the blog much lately. I have been hard at work on a project funded by the British Government's Department For International Development.
The project is a meta-analysis of how giving poor families money influences their children's height. A meta-analysis means I'm examining a bunch of different studies (a couple of dozen is what we found after weeks of searching databases). Why children's height, because it's a good indicator of health?
I'm not ready to be cited yet, but I have learned there really aren't that many studies of how cash influences children's health (a couple dozen). Cash programs (and particularly those with conditional health check ups and schooling) seem to be extremely popular with governments and aid agencies.
I hope our study sheds a little light on what might influence a program's effect on children's height (and health). Since most of the support for these cash payments is based off of results on a handful of programs continuing to analyze differences between countries is important.
A study in Brazil (Morris et al. 2004) where a cash payment actually decreased child height, gives us a little pause. The authors suggest that families feared they might lose the transfer if children were too healthy (even thought this wasn't the case). This shows even if a type of program would work well in all places, you might not get a well functioning program everywhere.