Handbook of Social Policy and Development
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Handbook of Social Policy and Development

Edited by James Midgley, Rebecca Surender and Laura Alfers

The Handbook of Social Policy and Development makes a groundbreaking, coherent case for enhancing collaboration between social policy and development. With wide ranging chapters, it discusses a myriad of ways in which this can be done, exploring both academic and practical activities. As the conventional distinction between ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ countries becomes increasingly blurred, this Handbook explores how collaboration between social policy and development is needed to meet global social needs.
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Chapter 20: Conditional income transfers, social policy and development

Armando Barrientos


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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