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Reducing Adolescent Risky Behaviors in a High-Risk Context: The Effects of Unconditional Cash Transfers in South Africa

Carolyn Heinrich, John Hoddinott () and Michael Samson

Economic Development and Cultural Change, 2017, vol. 65, issue 4, 619 - 652

Abstract: South African adolescents living in poverty are at significant risk for negative outcomes associated with risky sexual activity and substance use. The South African government introduced the Child Support Grant (CSG) to reduce poverty and provide protection from these risks. We use variation in grant receipt by age to estimate potential effects of this unconditional cash transfer program on adolescent outcomes. The study findings suggest that the CSG may play an important role in reducing adolescent risky behaviors, particularly early sexual debut among females. The results also suggest that policy efforts to expand grant access to children up to adulthood and to reduce barriers to maintaining grant access for those living in poverty should improve outcomes for South African adolescents.

Date: 2017
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