Despite the large interest in economic interventions to reduce HIV risk, little research has been done to show whether there are economic gains of these interventions for younger women and what intermediary role economic resources play in changing participants' sexual behavior. This paper contributes to this gap by examining the impacts of a conditional cash transfer (CCT) for young women in South Africa on young women's economic resources and the extent to which they play a role in young women's health and behavior. We used data from HIV Prevention Trials Network 068 study, which provided transfers to young women (in addition to their parents) conditional on the young woman attending at least 80% of school days in the previous month. We found that the CCT increased young women's economic wellbeing in terms of having savings, spending money, being unindebted, and food secure. We also investigated heterogeneous effects of the program by household economic status at baseline because the program was not specifically poverty targeted and found that the results were driven by young women from the poorest families. From these results, we examined heterogeneity by baseline poverty for other outcomes related to HIV risk including sexual behavior and psychosocial well-being. We found psychosocial well-being benefits in young women from the poorest families and that economic wellbeing gains explained much these impacts.
Keywords: Adolescent girls and young women; Cash transfers; Economic empowerment; Psychosocial well-being; South Africa.