Cash Transfers and After-School Programs: A Randomized Controlled Trial for Young Men at Risk of Violence Exposure in Wilmington, Delaware

We conducted a randomized controlled trial to determine whether an after-school program paired with a cash transfer (a conditional cash transfer) or a cash transfer alone (an unconditional cash transfer) can help improve health and economic outcomes for young men between the ages of 14 and 17 whose parents have low incomes and who live in neighborhoods with high crime rates. We find that receiving the cash transfer alone was associated with an increase in healthy behaviors (one of our primary outcome composite measures) and that the cash transfer paired with after-school programming was associated with an improvement in the financial health of participants (one of our secondary outcome composite measures). We find no differences in spending on alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes, or other drugs between either the treatment group and the control group. Neither the cash transfer alone nor the programming plus cash transfer had statistically significant effects on our other primary composite measures (physical and mental health or school attendance and disciplinary actions), or our other secondary composite measures (criminal justice engagement or social supports) but in most cases, confidence intervals were too large to rule out meaningful effects. Results suggest that cash transfers hold promise to improve the health of youth without any indication of any adverse effects.