When the Money Runs Out: Do Cash Transfers Have Sustained Effects on Human Capital Accumulation?

The five-year evaluation of a cash transfer program targeted to adolescent females points to both the promise and limitations of cash transfers for persistent welfare gains. Conditional cash transfers produced sustained improvements in education and fertility for initially out-of-school females but caused no detectable gains in other outcomes. Significant declines in HIV prevalence, pregnancy and early marriage observed during the program among recipients of unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) evaporated quickly after the cessation of support. However, children born to UCT beneficiaries during the program had significantly higher height-for-age z-scores at follow-up pointing to the potential importance of cash during critical periods.