Cash Transfer and Adolescent Life-Course Survey
The Cash Transfer and Adolescent Life-course Survey (CTALS) is a bespoke survey conducted in Nepal in 2017 as part of a mixed-methods PhD thesis examining the effects of an unconditional cash transfer, Nepal's Old Age Allowance (OAA), on the life-course circumstances of adolescents who co-reside with elders. The CTALS was designed to exploit expected discontinuities in outcomes of co-resident adolescents at the age of eligibility for the OAA and includes 2,018 households with 3,487 adolescents and 2,454 elders. The survey modules include: (A) Basic interview information (B) Household questionnaire including household roster and member characteristics (C) Assets and services (D) Livelihoods, income, debt and expenditure (E) Parent questionnaire covering adolescent migration, education, time allocation, and marriage (F) Adolescent questionnaire covering migration, education, time allocation, and marriage; (G) Elder person questionnaire covering the OAA and role in decision-making. The survey was designed to answer the following research questions: How does Nepal’s Old Age Allowance (OAA) change decision-making about adolescents’ life-course circumstances in multi-generational households? - What are the gendered effects of OAA income on adolescents’ education, work, marriage timing? - What are the pathways through which the OAA affects adolescents’ life-course circumstances? - How is OAA income factored into households’ decision-making about adolescent life-course options? The main findings show that the OAA supports households to fulfil existing preferences for adolescents, which depend on the socioeconomic status, decision-making dynamics and religion of the household, the type and quality of local schools, the nature of local credit markets, and gendered social norms and expectations attached to transitions to adulthood. For many adolescents, this means increased access to school, including public, private, and religious school. However, some households support adolescents to access private school by taking loans in anticipation of OAA eligibility but fail to sustain the costs in the face of delays in registration and receipt of the first payments. Some out-of-school adolescents are prevented from engaging in paid work. However, other households use the OAA to accelerate transitions to adulthood, supporting economic migration of older boys and expediting the formalisation of marriage of older girls. The research proposal underwent ethics review at the London School of Economics (LSE). At the time, no non-medical research ethics review process was available in Nepal. The author sought guidance on ethics from Tribhuvan University and the wider research and development community; and obtained relevant permissions from central and local government.
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The survey was conducted by a team of enumerators from the local region under the supervision of the author, using digitized questionnaires on the ODK platform. Data were collected on the life-course circumstances of adolescents who co-reside with at least one OAA eligible elder, the treatment group, and those who co-reside with at least one non-eligible elder (and no eligible elder), the control group. The two groups represent similar households with the same long-term income but that differ in the timing of that income. Adolescents, the primary unit of analysis, are defined as any current, or recently migrated (within 3 years), household member aged 10-17 years. In the majority non-Dalit households, co-residing elders are aged 65-74 years, representing a 10-year bandwidth around the OAA eligibility age of 70 years. Dalits are eligible for the OAA from age 60 as a response to their long-standing political and socioeconomic marginalisation. In Dalit households co-residing elders are therefore aged 55-64 years. The survey sample is a census of households that meet the sampling criteria in 13 contiguous Village Development Committees (VDC) in southern Rautahat district in the Terai region. The sample area was selected due to its high rate of poverty and low human development indicators. The data includes a household dataset (CTALS_hh.dta) with 2,018 cases and a household member dataset (CTALS_hm.dta) with 18,030 cases (linked by the variable parent_key), the survey questionnaire (CTAL SurveyQ-v1.4.xlsx) and Stata code for the full analysis (MathersN_thesis_final.do). Full details of the estimation approach used for causal inference are available from the author and will be published in the final thesis shortly.