Are there diminishing returns to transfer size in conditional cash transfers?

There is increasing evidence that conditional cash transfer programs can have large impacts on school enrollment, including in very poor countries. However, little is known about which features of program design— including the amount of the cash that is transferred, how frequently conditions are monitored, whether noncomplying households are penalized, and the identity or gender of the cash recipients—account for the observed outcomes. This paper analyzes the impact of one feature of program design—namely, the magnitude of the transfer. The analysis uses data from a program in Cambodia that deliberately altered the transfer amounts received by otherwise comparable households. The findings show clear evidence of diminishing marginal returns to transfer size despite the fact that even the larger transfers represented on average only 3 percent of the consumption of the median recipient households. If applicable to other settings, these results have important implications for other programs that transfer cash with the explicit aim of increasing school enrollment levels in developing countries.

author
Filmer, Deon
Schady, Norbert
series
Impact evaluation series
Policy research working paper series WPS
language
ENG
Series volume
035
4999
Institutions
World Bank
date
2009
Pages
20 p.
regions
Asia and the Pacific
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themes
Educational planning methodology
Educational finance
Pays
Cambodia
levels
Secondary education

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