DETAIL(S)Journal of Policy Analysis and Management , March 2016, vol. 35 (2), pp. 357-387.
Accumulated evidence from dozens of cash transfer (CT) programs across the world suggests that there are few interventions that can match the range of impacts and cost-effectiveness of a small, predictable monetary transfer to poor families in developing countries. However, individual published impact assessments typically focus on only one program and one outcome. This article presents two-year impacts of the Zambian Government's Child Grant, an unconditional CT to families with children under age 5, across a wide range of domains including consumption, productive activity, and women and children's outcomes, making this one of the first studies to assess both protective and productive impacts of a national unconditional CT program. We show strong impacts on consumption, food security, savings, and productive activity. However, impacts in areas such as child nutritional status and schooling depend on initial conditions of the household, suggesting that cash alone is not enough to solve all constraints faced by these poor, rural households. Nevertheless, the apparent transformative effects of this program suggest that unconditional transfers in very poor settings can contribute to both protection and development outcomes.