A participant in a cash transfer programme in Zimbabwe (Photo: Kate Holt / DFAT)

Cash transfers: why elites' attitudes matter

Following the success of cash transfers in Latin America, donors and NGOs increasingly propose CTs as part of social protection programming in other regions. But is sufficient attention being paid to the political economy issues of these different contexts – including the attitudes of elites?

DLP research suggests that understanding these context-specific attitudes is important in assessing programmes' feasibility and potential sustainability, and in communicating or 'framing' initiatives in ways that increase buy-in.

Findings from Malawi show that understanding elite attitudes towards poverty can help to explain why there's so little support for cash transfers, despite evidence that they are effective in alleviating poverty. The study found that elites' attitudes towards poverty – about the risk of dependency among the poor and about direct redistribution being unfair, for example – affect which policies they are willing to support and implement.

The findings question the sustainability of Malawi's CTs beyond donor funding. They suggest there would be more support among Malawi's elites for other forms of social protection and strategies that help the poor become economically active. Future programmes that take this into account could lead to better buy-in and sustainability – perhaps, for example, by linking cash transfers to concepts Malawi's elites do approve of, such as public works programmes or education.

See the new Research Paper by independent researcher Chipiliro Kalebe-Nyamongo and DLP's Director Heather Marquette.

 

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The Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) is an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development.

DLP focuses on the crucial role of home-grown leaderships and coalitions in forging legitimate political settlements and institutions that promote developmental outcomes, such as sustainable growth, political stability and inclusive social development.

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