The impact of cash transfers on household welfare in Namibia

Peer-reviewed article
(2011 Feb) Development Southern Africa, 28 39-59


Sebastian Levine, Servaas van der Berg & Derek Yu


Namibia has a long history of providing a universal and non-contributory old age pension, child grants using means testing and quasi-conditionalities, and other cash transfers. Multivariate analysis presented in this paper confirms that these transfers play an important role in alleviating poverty, especially for the very poor. The poverty-reducing effects of the child grants are likely to increase further as access is being rapidly expanded. However, the impact in terms of reducing Namibia's extremely high inequality is limited. The targeting of the cash transfers towards the poorest groups takes place through two main channels. For the child grant, targeting occurs as a result of the orphan status eligibility criteria, as orphans are over-represented in lower-income households. For the universal social pension, it appears that some of the relatively less poor do not receive it even if they are eligible. Means testing of child grants appears ineffective, even without considering administrative costs.

Keywords: old age pension, disability grant, child grant, Namibia, sub-Saharan Africa

Livelihood & Social Protection