Impacts of South Africa’s Child Support Grant
Introduction South Africa’s Child Support Grant (CSG) program was implemented in 1998 as part of the government’s ongoing efforts to meet the country’s constitutional provision for the “progressive realization of access to social security.” It is South Africa’s largest social cash transfer (CT) program. A central goal of the CSG is to reduce child poverty, which currently affects approximately 60 percent of South Africa’s children. The high incidence of poverty in South Africa is a factor in a number of negative outcomes for children, including hunger, child labor, secondary school dropout and increased participation in risky behaviors. Recent expansion in the coverage of the CSG has increased its potential to significantly improve the well-being of South African children into their adulthood and, more broadly, South African society’s health, social and economic wellbeing. Social CTs – both conditional and unconditional – have long been an important strategy for tackling poverty and promoting human capital and social development. However, considerable room exists to document the extent to which these programs yield the expected impacts and what other outcomes can be attributed to these interventions. There is an increasing demand by governments and development partners for rigorous and convincing evidence on the impact of programs and other interventions that aim to reduce poverty and promote human development outcomes, particularly in the context of tight budgets and fiscal conditions. In particular, practitioners, especially governments, want to know whether they are reaching their program objectives and how to improve program effectiveness. Previous studies have documented the CSG program’s performance in terms of cost-effectively reaching poor children and reducing poverty gaps. In addition, several studies have begun to build an evidence base for the CSG that suggests its potential for reducing hunger, promoting nutrition, improving school attendance and promoting more positive health outcomes. The objective of this chapter is to further these efforts by providing more robust quantitative evidence on the effects of the CSG on children’s lives.