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Title: Unconditional Cash Transfers and Declining Rates of Intimate Partner Violence: An Examination of the Potential Mechanisms Behind the Success of a Cash Transfer Intervention in Rural Kenya
Authors: Goldstein, Everest
Advisors: Haushofer, Johannes
Department: Psychology
Class Year: 2016
Abstract: Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a globally prevalent issue, particularly for women in high-conflict impoverished regions, such as South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. IPV is proven to lead to a range of mental and physical health issues, including depression and suicidal behaviors, homicide, and HIV infection. Previous methods to reduce IPV have included community-level interventions, such as the SASA! program, as well as relationship-level interventions. Little research has investigated the mechanisms behind domestic violence and its response to such interventions. This is a qualitative study that aims to uncover these mechanisms and expand upon knowledge of IPV in poverty-stricken areas. In other terms, this study seeks to answer the question: how does the effect of unconditional cash transfers work to decrease IPV rates in the studied population of impoverished, rural Kenya? Methods: The qualitative data of this study, which was collected in August and September of 2015 as part of the second endline of the GiveDirectly randomized field experiment to deliver unconditional cash transfers to randomly selected impoverished households in randomly selected villages in rural Kenya, found that IPV was significantly reduced. The current study seeks to understand the underlying mechanisms behind the relationship between the cash transfers and the reduction in IPV through analysis of 24 semi-structured in-depth interviews with male community members. The treatment males received cash transfers and the control males did not receive transfers but resided in the same villages as other treatment males. The physical and sexual violence occurrences were quantitatively measured 3.5 years after baseline, and the follow-up participants used in this study were selected based on female reports of physical and/or sexual violence. Follow-up participants were interviewed, and these interviews served as the qualitative data that was audio recorded, completely translated and transcribed, and thematically analyzed complimented with constant comparative methods. Results: Our qualitative findings suggest a number of mechanisms through which IPV was observed to decrease in both treatment and spillover households following the cash transfer interventions. The strongest pathways appear to be through improving of psychological wellbeing, increasing financial security, and changing of social norms, all of which appear to affect partner relationships and conflicts. The cash transfers lowered sources of conflict, such as financial stress and threats to masculinity, as well improved conflict coping mechanisms, such as joint-decision making skills. The combination of lower conflict along with stronger coping mechanisms helps attribute to reduced domestic violence reports. Additionally, changed social norms regarding gender violence attitudes, as well as greater optimism and hope about the future contributed to the observed reduction in reports of IPV in spillover households. Discussion: This paper reveals the ways through which unconditional cash transfers increase economic empowerment of participants, which can decrease IPV rates in impoverished areas through the reduced financial strain, improved psychological wellbeing, greater relationship bond between partners, and altered community and familial status. This sheds light into the psychological reasons attributing to domestic violence, as well as possible interventions that can be implemented to reduce domestic violence in developing countries.
Extent: 61 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Psychology, 1930-2016

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