Cash Transfers and Child and Adolescent Development

Authors: Damien de Walque, Lia Fernald, Paul Gertler, Melissa Hidrobo


Social safety net programs support vulnerable populations by distributing transfers to low-income households to prevent shocks, protect the chronically poor, promote capabilities and opportunities for vulnerable households, and transform systems of power that exclude certain marginalized groups (for example, women, children) (Devereux and Sabates-Wheeler 2004). In 2011 cash transfer (CT) programs covered an estimated 750 million to 1 billion people worldwide; India (48 million households), China (22 million households), Brazil (12 million households), and Mexico (5 million households) were among the countries with the largest programs (DFID 2011). Most low- and middle-income countries spend 1–2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on social transfer programs, although spending would need to increase to 2 - 6 percent to ensure adequate coverage.