The South African Child Gauge 2016 by the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town has recently been released and – focusing the theme of Children and Social Assistance – it offers an interesting spotlight on the Child Support Grant (CSG).  Here follows some very encouraging facts shared in the publication relating to the benefits of the CSG for children (pages 44 -45):

  • “South Africa’s social grants, along with its tax policies and social spending, have been credited with being strongly progressive, helping to raise the income of the poorest by 10 times and to reduce income inequality by a quarter.
  • Studies show that it [the CSG] improves child nutrition, health and schooling outcomes. It protects adolescents from risk, strengthens households’ resilience to shocks, and has the potential for impacting lifelong productivity and earnings.
  • Despite its modest value, there is evidence that the CSG contributes to improving food security and nutrition in measurable ways.  In a recent study, duration of receipt of the CSG was strongly associated with an increase in household expenditure on food and a decrease in the expenditure share of “adult goods” (e.g. alcohol, tobacco).
  • On study showed that the probability that a child would experience hunger in the past year decreased by 8 – 14% with each CSG that a household received.
  • Households’ ability to consume more nutritious diets is captured in improved height-for-age scores, an indicator of nutritional status. Receiving the CSG during the first two years of life significantly boosts child height, particularly among girls.
  • Grants have helped close the gaps in nutrition between South Africa’s poorest and richest children. There has been a significant decline from 1993 to 2008 in the stunting rates of children from the bottom two deciles compared with the rates of the wealthiest 10% of children. Echoing previous research, the narrowing of these gaps has been attributed largely to the introduction of the CSG in 1998.
  • It also has other child health benefits: For one study, across the full study sample, the average child (girl or boy) was sick for 1.5 days. Early and continued access to the CSG reduced the number of sick days by more than one quarter (0.4 days).
  • One study found that, despite the lower attendance rates among children living in rural and informal urban areas, those who were receiving the CSG were one and a half times as likely to be attending an ECD facility or Grade R as those who were not getting the grant”.

These are only the benefits for children, read about the benefits for school-age children, adolescents and other groups on pages 46 – 52.  This issue of the South African Child Gauge features nine essays that outline the benefits of social assistance and reflect on recent policy proposals that aim to build on this foundation and contribute to the progressive realisation of children’s right to social assistance.  Download it here.