This paper examines the impact of cash assistance provided to Afghan refugees returning from Pakistan on household outcomes post-return. Specifically, the authors examine whether Afghan refugees who returned between July 2016 and March 2017 and received a larger reintegration allowance of US$400 per returnee are better off compared to those who received a reintegration allowance of US$200 per returnee. The analysis is based on three different post-return surveys (on average data was collected 16 months after return) combined with administrative data from UNHCR’s voluntary repatriation forms.
- Households receiving US$400 per returning household member were more likely to use reintegration assistance for purchasing long-term assets, while those who received US$200 per returning household member were more likely to purchase immediate consumption goods. Almost half of returnees who received US$200 per capita spent more than half of their reintegration assistance on food, compared to only 17 percent of those who received US$400. Returnees who received US$400 per capita were more likely to invest in purchasing land (21 percent) compared to those who received US$200 (7 percent). Returnees who received more cash were also more likely to invest in transportation and rental payments.
- The likelihood of owning a dwelling for Afghan refugees is highly correlated with both the total payment received by the household, and the household size. Households reporting owning their residence approximately 16 months post-return received US$2,253 in reintegration assistance on average, compared to US$1,655 for households not owning a house post-return.
- There was no long-term impact of reintegration assistance on reservation wages or employment. Households receiving US$200 per capita were as likely as those receiving US$400 per capita to have an employed household member.
- No significant impact of the variation in cash assistance on the likelihood of enrolling all household children in school. School education in Afghanistan is free, and an unconditional cash transfer to returnees might not affect school enrollment. Additionally, the data only permitted the authors to measure whether households enroll all their children in schools.
- Households receiving US$400 per returning household member were more likely to have legal documentation (tazkiras) for all household members compared to those receiving US$200 per returning household member. More than three quarters (76 percent) of households receiving US$400 per capita received tazkiras, compared to only 60 percent of returnees receiving US$200 per capita.
Overall, the impact of cash assistance has been significant, and large, especially on the likelihood of home ownership, legal documentation, and the difference in consumption patterns. Households who received US$400 per capita in cash assistance were 17 percentage points more likely to own a house, 30 percentage points more likely to have issued legal documentation for their household, and 40 percentage points less likely to have spent more than half of their reintegration assistance on food.