Differences were also found regarding how each type of program benefited poor households compared to more well-off households. Food transfers, by generating higher food consumption and caloric intake, led to significantly larger impacts for the poorest households. Food vouchers and cash transfers had generally similar impacts across all households.
Finally, significant differences were found in the cost of implementing all three programs. The authors found that that the marginal cost of each program was $11.50 for a food transfer, $3.03 for a cash transfer, and $3.30 for a voucher. Looking at both the costs and impacts, food transfers appear to be the least cost-effective way of improving food consumption levels and dietary diversity across the board. The cost-effectiveness of cash transfers and food vouchers, however, is not as straightforward and ultimately depends on the specific goal of the program. If the desired outcome is an improvement in food consumption, then there is no significant difference between cash transfers and food vouchers. Food vouchers, on the other hand, may be better for achieving improved dietary diversity. Finally, if the goal is to improve overall welfare, cash transfers may be the most effective. The report found that, in addition to being the cheapest means of providing assistance, cash transfer programs are also generally more preferred by recipients; this preference may be due to the increased freedom felt by recipients of cash transfers, as well as the potential for cash transfers to generate household savings and improve overall welfare.
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