Educational Impacts and Cost-Effectiveness of Conditional Cash Transfer Programs in Developing Countries: A Meta-Analysis

    We meta-analyze for impact and cost-effectiveness 94 studies from 47 conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs in low- and middle-income countries worldwide, focusing on educational outcomes that include enrollment, attendance, dropout and school completion. To conceptually guide and interpret the empirical findings of our meta-analysis, we present a simple economic framework of household decision-making that generates predictions, all else constant, for the association between certain program context and design characteristics, and impact estimates. We also present a simple model for the analysis of program costs, using it to compute cost-effectiveness estimates for a subsample of CCT programs. For all schooling outcomes, we find strong support for heterogeneity in impact, transfer-effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness estimates. Our meta-analytic results of impact and transfer-effectiveness estimates provide support to some – but not all – of the predictions from the household decision-making model.


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