The impact of conditional cash transfers on child health in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic review

Int J Public Health. 2014 Aug;59(4):609-18. doi: 10.1007/s00038-014-0570-x. Epub 2014 Jun 5.


Objectives: The review aimed to assess the effectiveness of conditional cash transfers (CCTs) in improving child health in low- and middle-income countries.

Methods: Seven electronic databases were searched for papers: MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed, PsychINFO, BIOSIS Previews, Academic Search Complete, and CSA Sociological Abstracts. The included studies comprised of randomised controlled trials and controlled before-and-after studies evaluating the impact of CCTs on child health. Due to the substantial heterogeneity of the studies, a narrative synthesis was conducted on the extracted data.

Results: Sixteen studies predominantly from Latin American countries met the inclusion criteria. The outcomes reported by the studies in relation to CCTs' effectiveness in improving child health were reduction in morbidity risk, improvement in nutritional outcomes, health services utilisation, and immunisation coverage.

Conclusions: The review suggests that to a large extent, CCTs are effective in improving child health by addressing child health determinants such as access to health care, child and maternal nutrition, morbidity risk, immunisation coverage, and household poverty in developing countries particularly middle-income countries. Of importance to both policy and practice, it appears that CCTs require effective functioning of health care systems to effectively promote child health.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Welfare / economics*
  • Child Welfare / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developing Countries / economics
  • Developing Countries / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Financing, Government / economics*
  • Financing, Government / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Promotion / economics*
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics*
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Latin America
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Poverty Areas
  • Preventive Health Services / economics
  • Preventive Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult
  • Zimbabwe