Conditional income transfers are time-guaranteed public transfers of income and services offered to households in poverty with the objective of supplementing their consumption and facilitating human capital accumulation. The income transfers are conditional on children attending school and on household members attending primary health care, especially expectant mothers and infants. This chapter provides a primer on conditional income transfers. It shows that their rationale lies in an understanding of poverty as caused by deficits in productive capacity. This explains their core design feature: the combination of income transfers with incentives for human development. Extensive research, including impact evaluations, into the outcomes of conditional income transfers confirms they meet their objectives, with variation across countries and programmes. A brief section examines diverse practices in existing programmes and sketches their boundaries with other types of social assistance programme. An assessment of their sustainability, institutional and political, reveals their emergence as strong and innovative welfare institutions, especially in middle income countries. Their main contribution has been to demonstrate that eradicating poverty requires improving the productive capacity of low income groups, and children in particular.
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