Effects of a Large-Scale Unconditional Cash Transfer Program on Mental Health Outcomes of Young People in Kenya: A Cluster Randomized Trial
Kelly Kilburn, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Harsha Thirumurthy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Audrey Pettifor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Sudhanshu Handa, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
We examine the effects of a national social cash transfer program on mental health outcomes for youth using data collected in 2011 as a part of a large-scale, experimental impact evaluation of the Kenyan national cash transfer program (CT-OVC). Our primary analysis compares rates of depressive symptoms using the CES-D10 among youth (age 15-24) in intervention and control households four years after program initiation. Youth in treatment households were 22 percent less likely to have depressive symptoms, but we find that impacts are concentrated among males. The program also improves other related outcomes such as Hope and subjective health for young men, but not for young women. While schooling seems to have a protective effect on mental health, it does not moderate the treatment effect nor does it explain the discrepancy between males and females.
Presented in Session 37: Demography of Mental Health