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Conditional cash transfer programmes are now a central part of the debate on social protection policies. So far the emphasis has been on “conditional”. This column focuses on the “cash” and suggests that it might benefit financial development – and that this possibility should be explored at the very least.


Among social protection policies, conditional cash transfer programmes are undoubtedly one of the most important innovations. These programmes are designed to achieve broad development objectives. The number of countries implementing conditional cash transfer programmes is rapidly growing, from about 3 in 1997 to more than 30 a decade later. Their most innovtive aspects are that:

  • these transfers are often paid in cash (as opposed to “in kind”),
  • they are targeted (usually to the poor and, especially, to women in households with children),
  • they have an explicit poverty reduction objective (they aim at alleviating poverty in the short-run through the transfers themselves, and to alleviate long-run poverty by linking the receipt of such transfers to investments in human capital),
  • they have an explicit conditionality component (the receipt of further transfers is often conditional on, for instance, school attendance and visits to health centres), and
  • they contain in their design a very strong ex-post evaluation component.
One particularly innovative component of these programmes that has received scant attention in the literature is their potential to foster financial inclusion.


— Nauro F Campos Fabrizio Coricelli 20101122 | How financial development can maximise the impact of social protection policies in low-income countries 

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