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

  • Filmer, Deon
  • Schady, Norbert

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 non-complying 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.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4999.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 2009
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4999
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