Seasonal Hunger: Cash Transfers to assist migration

Mushfiq Mubarak has a good study (RCT) on seasonal hunger. Villagers face a tough time between sowing of seeds and harvesting the crop. They don't have source of income during this time. They are forced to cut down food consumption and other expenditures.

Mubarak et al. provided a small cash transfer ($8.5) to assist temporary migration to cities. This is a small amount to cover bus ticket and food for a couple of days. Such small amount had huge effects.
22% households sent a seasonal migrant;
A 30 to 35 percent increase in food and nonfood expenditures for the families of the individuals who accepted the incentive and migrated;
Consumption of 550 to 700 more calories a day per person, equivalent to an extra meal per person daily, for those who took advantage of the travel subsidy;
As much as a 19 percent increase in household income during the lean season for those who took the incentive
Recurring migration as households that received incentives one time became more likely to send someone to work during the lean season in subsequent years, even though incentives were not offered in those years.
 This had spill over effects too.
  1. When large number of people migrate, it reduces population in village and hence increased their wages.
  2. It increased migration even among the non participants. It's because people migrate in groups to share costs.
 If the cost of migration is small ($8.5) with huge benefits, why didn't households migrate before? The authors say that
migration is risky, mitigating risk requires individual-specific learning, and some migrants are sufficiently close to subsistence that failed migration is very costly.

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