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Cash transfers boost educational outcomes for poor children on average, but among the poor, which children benefit most? This study examines the educational impacts of cash transfers for children facing different challenges (e.g., being girls, orphans, among the poorest, and having low baseline exam performance), drawing on a randomized, community implemented conditional cash transfer program targeted to poor households in Tanzania. On average, being assigned to receive transfers significantly improves children’s school participation (by between 8 and 10 percentage points) and primary completion rates (by between 14 and 16 percentage points). Differing point estimates suggest that gains are unequally distributed across children. As a result of the program, the poorest children are more likely to ever have attended school, whereas the less poor are more likely to complete primary school. Boys and girls benefit similarly. Educational gains are concentrated among students performing better in school at baseline.

After incorporating suggestions from helpful readers, the authors updated this working paper in March 2021. You can read the original version of the working paper—from December 2020—here.

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