Promoting Early Childhood Development Through Combining Cash Transfers and Parenting Programmes

Evaluations of cash transfer programmes have shown a positive impact on reducing poverty, improving human capital and promoting recipients’ dignity and autonomy. Yet policymakers across several low- and middle-income countries, including in Sub-Saharan Africa, continue to be sceptical of these transfers as a poverty reduction strategy. They are sensitive to concerns that the cash will be wasted on alcohol and tobacco, increase dependency on the state and disrupt local economies.

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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.

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Safety nets in Africa are a popular policy instrument to address the widespread chronic poverty and encourage human capital investments in the education and health of children. Although there have been considerable analyses on the impacts of safety nets globally, particularly in Latin America, less been done on synthesizing results across Sub-Saharan African programs. This study fills this gap by systematically extracting and standardizing the results across impact evaluations for better understanding of what has been achieved using this policy instrument in the continent.

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Within social protection, antipoverty transfer programmes have significantly emerged in developing countries since the late 1990s. The effects of long-term participation and the assessment of the response of children's human capital formation to different levels of exposure are still unclear. This paper initially takes into consideration the Baland and Robinson (2000) human capital investment model to look into the economics of the length of exposure to antipoverty transfers.

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