Elite Attitudes Towards Cash Transfers and the Poor in Malawi

Type Working Paper
Title Elite Attitudes Towards Cash Transfers and the Poor in Malawi
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
URL http://publications.dlprog.org/EliteAttitudesCTs.pdf
This paper argues that the planning of cash transfer (CT) programmes needs to involve more consideration of
the country-specific attitudes of elites. It is members of a country’s elites who are often expected to implement –
and in the long term, allocate domestic funding to – such programmes. The paper presents findings from primary
research in Malawi that examined elites’ attitudes towards poverty and how to reduce it. It shows that their attitudes
– about the risk of dependency among the poor and about direct redistribution being unfair, for example –
affect which policies they are willing to support and implement. The findings question the sustainability of Malawi’s
CTs beyond donor funding. They suggest there would be more support among Malawi’s elites for other forms of
social protection such as public works and strategies that help the poor become economically active.
Cash transfers can be defined as direct and regular non-contributory cash payments that raise or smooth the incomes
of poor and vulnerable households. Donors and NGOs have proposed cash transfers as part of social protection
programming in many developing countries, particularly in Africa. However, the crucial role that politics plays in decisions
about the allocation of resources has often been overlooked. The political economy issues that have received little attention
include attitudes to the poor and to welfare.

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