Cash or Condition? Evidence from a Cash Transfer Experiment

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.

Baird, McIntosh and _zler (2011)


Rural (mostly): Zomba districtRCTCash transfers varied randomly (at level of enumerator area) between $4, $6, $8 and $10 per month to parents and between $1, $2, $3, $4 and $5 to student beneficiaries. In addition, CCT recipients' secondary school fees were paid. For conditional treatment arms, payment was made if attendance the previous month was at least 80% of school days. Unconditional arm had identical offer except payment was not conditional on attending school, and payments were adjusted upward to match the amount of school fees plus cash transfer that CCT arm received. Decrease in the drop-out rate in the UCT group only 43% as large as that in the CCT group.,907 school girls in 176 enumeration areas.