Publication Title: The Quarterly Journal of Economics
Abstract: This article assesses the role of conditionality in cash transfer programs using a unique experiment targeted at adolescent girls in Malawi. The program featured two distinct interventions: unconditional transfers (UCT arm) and transfers conditional on school attendance (CCT arm). Although there was a modest decline in the dropout rate in the UCT arm in comparison with the control group, it was only 43% as large as the impact in the CCT arm at the end of the 2-year program. The CCT arm also outperformed the UCT arm in tests of English reading comprehension. However, teenage pregnancy and marriage rates were substantially lower in the UCT than the CCT arm, entirely due to the impact of UCTs on these outcomes among girls who dropped out of school.