Can conditional cash transfers improve the uptake of nutrition interventions and household food security? Evidence from Odisha’s Mamata scheme
There is considerable global evidence on the effectiveness of cash transfers in improving health and nutrition outcomes; however, the evidence from South Asia, particularly India, is limited. In the context of India where more than a third of children are undernourished, and where there is considerable under-utilization of health and nutrition interventions, it is opportune to investigate the impact of cash transfer programs on the use of interventions. We study one conditional cash transfer program, Mamata scheme, implemented in the state of Odisha, in India that targeted pregnant and lactating women. Using survey data on 1161 households from three districts in the state of Odisha, we examine the effect of the scheme on eight outcomes: 1) pregnancy registration; 2) receipt of antenatal services; 3) receipt of iron and folic acid (IFA) tablets; 4) exposure to counseling during pregnancy; 5) exposure to postnatal counseling; 6) exclusive breastfeeding; 7) full immunization; and 8) household food security. We conduct regression analyses and correct for endogeneity using nearest-neighbor matching and inverse-probability weighting models. We find that the receipt of payments from the Mamata scheme is associated with a 5 percentage point (pp) increase in the likelihood of receiving antenatal services, a 10 pp increase in the likelihood of receiving IFA tablets, and a decline of 0.84 on the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale. These results provide the first quantitative estimates of effects associated with the Mamata scheme, which can inform the design of government policies related to conditional cash transfers.