Sustaining Impacts When Transfers End: Women Leaders, Aspirations, and Investment in Children

36 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2016 Last revised: 30 Dec 2022

See all articles by Karen Macours

Karen Macours

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

Renos Vakis

World Bank Group, Kenya

Date Written: November 2016


Numerous evaluations show that conditional cash transfer programs change households’ investments in their young children, but there are many open questions about how such changes can be sustained after transfers end. This paper analyzes the role of social interactions with local female leaders for sustaining program impacts. The social interactions are identified through the randomized assignment of leaders and other beneficiaries to different cash transfer packages. Random exposure to leaders that received the largest package was found to augment short-term program impacts on households’ investments in education and nutrition, and to affect households’ attitudes towards the future during the intervention. This paper shows that the strong social multiplier effects from leaders’ treatment persisted two years after the end of the program. Households randomly exposed to female leaders with the largest package sustained higher investments in their children and reported higher expectations and aspirations for the future of their children. These results suggest that program design features that enhance ownership of a program’s objectives by local leaders may shift other beneficiaries’ norms and sustain higher levels of human capital investments.

Suggested Citation

Macours, Karen and Vakis, Renos, Sustaining Impacts When Transfers End: Women Leaders, Aspirations, and Investment in Children (November 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w22871, Available at SSRN:

Karen Macours (Contact Author)

Paris School of Economics (PSE) ( email )

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014

Renos Vakis

World Bank Group, Kenya ( email )

1818 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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