This review was motivated by a need to know whether there is evidence of
broader economic impacts associated with cash transfer programmes. If
such evidence is found to be methodologically sound, it would help to
offset some of the costs of financing social transfers, thereby easing
their fiscal burden and increasing their appeal to policy-makers.
The initial search of the literature was conducted using a number of
online databases and search terms and resulted in 1,076 studies, which
was narrowed down to a final list of 46 papers.
The structure of the review is as follows: section 2 discusses a number
of methodological issues which are relevant to the approach taken to the
synthesis; section 3 provides a brief description of the programmes
included in the review process; the next sections discuss different
categories of economic impacts: section 4 discusses impacts relating to
household labour allocation, and section 5 to household expenditure
patterns including consumption, savings and investment; section 6
relates to the insurance role of cash transfers, and section 7 to the
local economy impacts. Finally, section 8 offers some concluding
- The evidence is strong that CCTs could lead to a rise in overall
household consumption, increase investment in productive assets,
reduce child labour and increase school attendance.
- The evidence is mixed as to the impacts on adult labour, with
increases in market work by both men and women in some contexts and
increases in leisure and domestic work in others.
- There is persuasive evidence that CCTs protect household consumption
and educational patterns during times of crisis.
- There is limited evidence that CCTs have spill-over effects within
communities in terms of poverty reduction, increased loans and
transfers and household behaviour.
- There is no evidence that CCTs lead to inflationary pressure in the
There is a protocol for this systematic review
Kabeer, N.; Piza, C.; Taylor, L. What are the economic impacts of conditional cash transfer programmes? A systematic review of the evidence. EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK (2012) iv +59 pp. ISBN 978-1-907345-42-5