Cash or Condition? Evidence from a Cash Transfer Experiment

Sarah Baird, George Washington University
Craig McIntosh, University of California, San Diego
Berk Ozler, World Bank Group

This paper assesses the role of conditionality in cash transfer programs using a unique experiment targeted at adolescent girls in Malawi. The program featured two distinct interventions: unconditional transfers (UCT arm) and transfers conditional on school attendance (CCT arm). While there was a modest decline in the dropout rate in the UCT arm in comparison to the control group, it was only 43% as large as the impact in the CCT arm at the end of the two-year program. The CCT arm also outperformed the UCT arm in tests of English reading comprehension. However, teenage pregnancy and marriage rates were substantially lower in the UCT than the CCT arm, entirely due to the impact of UCTs on these outcomes among girls who dropped out of school.

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Presented in Session 163: Human Capital and Reaping the Demographic Dividend in Sub-Saharan Africa