Cash Transfers for Child Development: Experimental Evidence from India

Despite significant economic growth, child development outcomes in India remain poor. Using a large-scale experiment in which randomly-selected mothers receive cash transfers for the first two years of their child's life, this study examines the relationship between income and child development in the Indian state of Jharkhand. Treated mothers and children experienced large increases in nutritional intake, including increases in caloric consumption of 9.6-15.5%. However, child anthropometric indicators improved only in areas with low rates of open defecation. These results suggest that poor sanitation is a key explanatory factor for the poor translation of increases in income into child growth in India.