DCP Chapter 23: Cash Transfers and Child and Adolescent Development

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The World Bank Group

The evidence from cash transfer (CT) programs throughout low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and their direct effects on the health and education outcomes of children and adolescents is reviewed in this chapter, followed by a discussion of the design of CT programs and why and how they could theoretically affect the outcomes of young children and adolescents. Strong evidence indicates that CT programs keep adolescent students enrolled in school longer, but their effect on adolescent health remains uncertain. It remains very difficult to compare results across countries and contexts, because unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) and conditional cash transfers (CCTs) have heterogeneous objectives, targeting, and conditions applied to the transfer, the amount of the transfer, and complementary services. CCT programs also differ because of country-level differences in the supply of health services. Policymakers should not assume CT programs will prove the most efficient intervention for improving the health outcomes of children and adolescents. The specific context, design, and objectives of each successful experience require careful consideration before replication and implementation in other settings.

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