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Relative effectiveness of conditional and unconditional cash transfers for schooling outcomes in developing countries

Additional Info

  • Authors: Sarah Baird, Francisco H. G. Ferreira, Berk Ozler, Michael Woolcock
  • Published date: 2013-09-02
  • Coordinating group(s): Education, International Development
  • Type of document: Review, Plain language summary
  • Library Image: Library Image
  • See the full review: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.4073/csr.2013.8
  • Records available in: English, Spanish
  • English:

    PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY

    Enforcing conditions makes cash transfers more effective in increasing enrolments

    Cash transfers – conditional or not – improve school enrolment and attendance, but there is limited evidence of effects on learning outcomes. If conditions are monitored and enforced the effect on enrolment is greater.

    What is the review about?

    In many countries, primary school enrolment is still not universal. More than 20 per cent of children do not attend school in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and around of a third of those who do enrol drop out before completing sixth grade. Secondary school enrolments are far lower. In many countries, fewer than half of all children attend secondary school. And the quality of education is low, with many students having low literacy and maths skills after several years of schooling.

    Cash transfer programmes, targeted at poor families, have become a popular means of tackling low enrolment. Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) for schooling are provided to poor households provided that children of school age enrol and attend school. Unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) are provided without conditions.

    What is the aim of this review?

    This Campbell systematic review assesses the effects of conditional and unconditional cash transfer programmes on education outcomes in low- and middle-income countries. The review summarizes findings from 35 studies.

    What were the main findings of the review?

    What studies are included?

    Eligible studies evaluate either conditional or unconditional cash transfer programmes, the

    conditional programmes having at least one condition explicitly related to schooling. Reported outcomes must include at least one quantifiable measure of enrolment, attendance or test scores.

    Thirty-five studies are included in the review: five UCTs, 26 CCTs, and four studies that directly compare CCTs to UCTs.

    Do cash transfers improve education outcomes?

    Both conditional and unconditional cash transfer programmes increase enrolment compared to no program. But they have at best a small effect on learning outcomes, although the evidence base on learning is small.

    Do conditions matter?

    Cash transfers have a larger effect on enrolment if there are conditions that are strictly monitored and enforced. Programs that are explicitly conditional, monitor compliance and penalize non-compliance have substantively larger effects—increasing the odds of enrolment by 60% compared to less than 20% for programs with no conditions (see Figure).

    How up-to-date is this review?

    The search for this review was updated in April 2013, and the review published in September 2013.

  • Spanish:

    Click on 'Download PDF' on the right to view the plain language summary in Spanish.

Select language:

PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY

Enforcing conditions makes cash transfers more effective in increasing enrolments

Cash transfers – conditional or not – improve school enrolment and attendance, but there is limited evidence of effects on learning outcomes. If conditions are monitored and enforced the effect on enrolment is greater.

What is the review about?

In many countries, primary school enrolment is still not universal. More than 20 per cent of children do not attend school in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and around of a third of those who do enrol drop out before completing sixth grade. Secondary school enrolments are far lower. In many countries, fewer than half of all children attend secondary school. And the quality of education is low, with many students having low literacy and maths skills after several years of schooling.

Cash transfer programmes, targeted at poor families, have become a popular means of tackling low enrolment. Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) for schooling are provided to poor households provided that children of school age enrol and attend school. Unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) are provided without conditions.

What is the aim of this review?

This Campbell systematic review assesses the effects of conditional and unconditional cash transfer programmes on education outcomes in low- and middle-income countries. The review summarizes findings from 35 studies.

What were the main findings of the review?

What studies are included?

Eligible studies evaluate either conditional or unconditional cash transfer programmes, the

conditional programmes having at least one condition explicitly related to schooling. Reported outcomes must include at least one quantifiable measure of enrolment, attendance or test scores.

Thirty-five studies are included in the review: five UCTs, 26 CCTs, and four studies that directly compare CCTs to UCTs.

Do cash transfers improve education outcomes?

Both conditional and unconditional cash transfer programmes increase enrolment compared to no program. But they have at best a small effect on learning outcomes, although the evidence base on learning is small.

Do conditions matter?

Cash transfers have a larger effect on enrolment if there are conditions that are strictly monitored and enforced. Programs that are explicitly conditional, monitor compliance and penalize non-compliance have substantively larger effects—increasing the odds of enrolment by 60% compared to less than 20% for programs with no conditions (see Figure).

How up-to-date is this review?

The search for this review was updated in April 2013, and the review published in September 2013.

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See the full review

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