Journal of Development Effectiveness, July 2016, vol. 8, pp. 346-367.
This article reports on the impact on child schooling and work of the Government of Zambia’s Child Grant Program (CGP), an unconditional cash transfer programme targeted to households with children under age 3 years in three districts of the country. Although the CGP’s focus is on very young children, we look to see if the programme has impacts on older children who are not the explicit target group. We use data from a large-scale social experiment involving 2519 households, half of whom were randomised out to a delayed-entry control group, that was implemented to assess the impact of the programme. We find that the CGP has no discernible impact on school enrolment of children age 7–14. However, when we break the sample by older (11–14) and younger (7–10) children – based on the grade structure of the Zambian schooling system – we find a significant impact among children age 11–14, which coincides with the exact age range where a sharp drop-out begins to occur in Zambia with point estimates in the range of 7–8 percentage points. Finally, we provide evidence on the potential pathways through which the unconditional cash transfer impacts on enrolment. Households in the CGP spend more on education, and in particular on uniforms and shoes, two items cited as key barriers to school enrolment in study areas.