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Abstract

We assess the relative impacts of receiving cash versus food transfers using a randomized design. Drawing on data collected in eastern Niger, we find that households randomized to receive a food basket experienced larger, positive impact on measures of food consumption and diet quality than those receiving the cash transfer. Other outcomes showed greater variation by season. Receiving food reduced the use of a number of coping strategies but this effect was more pronounced during the height of the lean season. Households receiving cash spent more money repairing their dwellings prior to the start of the rainy season and spent more on agricultural inputs during the growing season. Less than five percent of food was sold or exchanged for other goods. Food and cash were delivered with the same degree of frequency and timeliness but the food transfers cost 15 percent more to implement.

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