Unconditional Government Social Cash Transfer in Africa Does Not Increase Fertility

Tia Palermo, Sudhanshu Handa, Amber Peterman, and Leah Prencipe, UNICEF Office of Research—Innocenti

From the Journal of Population Economics


Among policymakers, a common perception surrounding the effects of cash transfer programmes, particularly unconditional programmes targeted to families with children, is that they induce increased fertility. We evaluate the Zambian Child Grant Programme, a government unconditional cash transfer targeted to families with a child under the age of 5 and examine impacts on fertility and household composition. The evaluation was a cluster randomized control trial, with data collected over 4 years from 2010 to 2014. Our results indicate that there are no programme impacts on overall fertility. Our results contribute to a small evidence base demonstrating that there are no unintended incentives related to fertility due to cash transfers.