Cash transfers and human capital outcomes of children in LMICs: A systematic review using PRISMA

With an increasing shift towards cash transfers and the proposition of Universal Basic Income (UBI) as a policy alternative to replace the existing schemes, there has been a rising discussion about the success and failure associated with cash transfers. Therefore, this article carries out a systematic review using PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis) to draw inferences and generate evidences with respect to the influence of cash transfers on two aspects of human capital outcomes of children, viz., child health and nutrition, and educational outcomes in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Forty four studies were selected on the basis of a four-stage procedure that checked for identification, screening, eligibility and inclusion. The results indicate that majority of cash transfers based on conditionalities, like mandatory attendance in healthcare organisations and educational institutions, proved to be effective in the selected countries. While 7 studies (16%) showed no changes in the outcomes, 5 (11%) depicted negative impact and the rest (73%) presented a positive result. The selected studies suggest that a strong supply-side mechanism in place in LMICs, ensure functional and quality services at health centres and schools in the respective regions and reflect overwhelming outcomes. Furthermore, incentive design, anticipated termination, and supply-side interventions would be instrumental in avoiding a crisis or shock in the economic sense to recipient households.