School of Economics

2016 Discussion papers

School of Economics Discussion Paper 16/11

Spillovers of Community-Based Health
Interventions on Consumption Smoothing

Emla Fitzsimons, Bansi Malde and Marcos Vera-Hernández
UCL and IFS, University of Kent

October 2016


Community-based interventions, particularly group-based ones, are considered to be a cost-effective way of delivering interventions in low-income settings. However, design features of these programs could also influence dimensions of household and community behaviour beyond those targeted by the intervention. This paper studies spillover effects of a participatory community health intervention in rural Malawi, implemented through a cluster randomised control trial, on an outcome not directly targeted by the intervention: household consumption smoothing after crop losses. We find that while crop losses reduce consumption growth in the absence of the intervention, households in treated areas are able to compensate for this loss and perfectly insure their consumption. Asset decumulation also falls in treated areas. We provide suggestive evidence that these effects are driven by increased social interactions, which could have alleviated contracting frictions; and rule out that they are driven by improved health or reductions in the incidence of crop losses.

JEL Classification: E21; G22; O12; O13

Keywords: participatory community interventions; spillovers; consumption smoothing; Sub-Saharan Africa

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Last Updated: 08/12/2016