The Design of Conditional Cash Transfers: Experiences from Argentina's Universal Child Allowance

22 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2014

See all articles by Lila Rabinovich

Lila Rabinovich

Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR)

Stephanie Diepeveen

University of Cambridge

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 1, 2014


Conditional cash transfer programs (CCTs) have become an increasingly prominent feature of social protection programs in developing countries. While a multitude of studies have examined the health, education and other impacts of CCTs in various countries, little attention has been paid to beneficiaries’ experiences and perceptions of the programs and its individual components. This paper focuses on beneficiaries’ experiences of Argentina’s flagship anti- poverty program, the Universal Child Allowance (AUH). The program consists of cash-transfers to poor families with children, conditional on the fulfilment of health and education commitments. The AUH has two design peculiarities: both men and women can act as transfer recipients, and 20% of the total annual transfer is released to beneficiaries in a lump sum once a year. We find that beneficiaries would prefer that transfers be targeted specifically to women, because of their role as the children’s primary carers, and also to reduce uncertainty over control of the transfer in the case of separation or divorce, as well as in unstable unions. In addition, while beneficiaries saw disbursement of the 20% as a lump sum as positive (a “bonus”), many were uncertain about when and under what conditions they would receive the retention payment. Uncertainty about eligibility and receipt of the transfer may reduce beneficiaries’ incentives to comply with conditions, or dissuade them from attempting to obtain the lump sum. The findings underscore the importance for policy makers to carefully examine the implications of particular design decisions for CCTs. Further study into such dynamics could contribute to the development and implementation of more transformative programs.

Keywords: international development, social protection, policy, Latin America

Suggested Citation

Rabinovich, Lila and Diepeveen, Stephanie, The Design of Conditional Cash Transfers: Experiences from Argentina's Universal Child Allowance (October 1, 2014). CESR-Schaeffer Working Paper No. 2014-006, Available at SSRN: or

Lila Rabinovich (Contact Author)

Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR) ( email )

635 Downey Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3332
United States

Stephanie Diepeveen

University of Cambridge ( email )

Trinity Ln
Cambridge, CB2 1TN
United Kingdom

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