36 Gordon Square
London WC1H 0PD

T +44 (0) 20 7958 8251

3ie-LIDC Seminar: Cash transfers: What Does the Evidence Say? A Rigorous Review of Programme Impact and of the Role of Design and Implementation Features

Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 17:00 to 18:30
LIDC Upper Meeting Room
Francesca Bastagli

This seminar was part of the 3ie-LIDC seminar series ‘What works in international development’ which explores key issues in impact evaluation of development interventions. It has been running on a monthly basis since January 2011, attracting a large and diverse audience of academics, policy-makers (predominantly from DFID) and development practitioners (international NGOs such as Save the Children, Oxfam, Sightsavers).

In each seminar one or two researchers present their results of impact evaluations, systematic review or methodological contribution followed by discussion and questions. The seminar is usually held on Wednesday evenings (with some exceptions), between 5.30pm and 7pm and is hosted by LIDC or one of its member colleges in central London (Bloomsbury).

If you want to receive invitations to future seminars, join our mailing list.


 This study retrieves, assesses and synthesises the evidence on the effects of cash transfers on individuals and households through a rigorous review of the literature of 15 years, from 2000 to 2015, covering low- and middle-income countries world-wide. Focusing on non-contributory monetary transfers, including conditional and unconditional social assistance transfers, social pensions and enterprise grants, it analyses the evidence of a) the impact of cash transfers on 35 indicators capturing six outcome areas (monetary poverty; education; health and nutrition; savings, investment and production; employment and empowerment) and of b) of the links between variations in cash transfer design and implementation features (core design features; conditionality; targeting mechanisms; payment systems; grievance mechanisms and programme governance; complementary interventions and supply side services) and these same outcomes. This study is distinct from previous cash transfers literature reviews in three key features: the methods used, the breadth of the evidence covered and the specific focus on the role of programme design and implementation features.  It describes the evidence base in terms of size and type of studies by outcome of interest, geographical coverage and cash transfer programme, and synthesises the evidence on the impacts (intended and unintended) of cash transfers on the six outcome areas of interest and on the role played by programme design features on these outcomes, to provide an uptodate and detailed single resource on the growing body of evidence on cash transfers and how they work.


Francesca Bastagli is Head of the Social Protection Programme at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). She specialises in research and advisory work on the design, monitoring and evaluation of social policies, with a focus on social protection policies and their poverty, inequality and employment outcomes. Her recent research examines income and wealth distribution and the role of fiscal policy, social protection effectiveness in the context of covariate shocks, targeting and conditionality in public cash transfers and the employment trajectories and wages of women with children. She is the author of articles on these topics and co-author of the book Wealth in the UK: Distribution, accumulation and policy (Oxford University Press, 2013). Prior to joining ODI, she was Research Fellow at the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at the London School of Economics (LSE). She has also worked at Bocconi University and the World Bank. Francesca holds a PhD and MSc in Social Policy from the LSE and a Laurea in Economics from Bocconi University.