• O12;
  • O19;
  • O22;
  • O38
  • Food aid;
  • Adult nutrition;
  • Intrahousehold allocation


Insight into the role of safety nets that contribute to adult nutrition is an important component to understanding the dynamics of poverty in developing countries. This article uses panel data from rural Ethiopia on individual nutritional status to test for an effect of public transfers on adult body mass index (BMI). Results show that among adult household members, male members are the primary beneficiaries of food aid as male and female aid recipients tend to invest aid receipts in male household members. These results are consistent with a theory in which additional resources are allocated to members of the household whose market returns are higher or those who engage in activities that expend higher levels of energy. For high-asset households, female household members benefit if the aid recipient is a female. Women in low-asset households appear to be adversely affected by aid receipts, and evidence suggests that women with little bargaining power suffer the most. The results suggest that aid receipts are useful in mitigating fluctuations in adult BMI over a short time period.