Table 1

Summary of study designs. Age range given where mean age is not provided

CountryDesignMean age (years)Participants Intervention and controlConditionalityMental health outcome Follow-up (years)Transfer amount (US$)
Angeles et al46MalawiCluster RCT15–22Families defined as ‘ultra-poor’ or labour constrained (n=1336
Intervention: Malawi Social Cash Transfer Programme Transfer (n=652)
Control: no transfer (n=640)
UnconditionalCenter for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale: (CES-D-10)2Variable based on households’ size and composition
Baird et al45MalawiCluster RCT15.3School-age girls in the low-income Zomba District (n=2049)Intervention: conditional cash transfer (n=46 enumeration areas) or unconditional cash transfer (n=27 enumeration areas).
Control: no transfer (n=15 enumeration areas)
Conditional (80% school attendance) and unconditional (identical with no requirements on school attendance)Psychological distress (anxiety, depressive symptoms and social dysfunction): General Health Questionnaire 12 (GHQ-12)5$1–5 per month to girls
$4–10 per month to caregivers
Fernald and Gunnar43MexicoQuasi-experimental4.0Children in households in low-income communities (n=1197)Intervention: Oportunidades (n=554)
Control: no transfer (n=762)
Conditional: compliance with school and clinic requirementsBaseline and responsivity salivary cortisol3.5Equivalent to approximentely 20% increase of household income
Filmer and Schady52CambodiaQuasi-experimental14.0Families of children selected for a scholarship (n=3800 scholarships)Intervention: Scholarship programme cash transfer (n=missing)
Control: no transfer (n=missing)
Conditional: enrollment, regular attendance and satisfactory grade progressPsychological distress: General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12)1.5$45 or $60 three times per year
Kilburn et al40KenyaIndividual RCT16.8Poor families taking care of orphans and vulnerable children (n=1540 households)Intervention: Kenya’s Cash Transfer Programme for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (n=1408).
Control: non-cash transfer households from the same sub-location, and non-cash transfer households from a different sub-location control (n=598)
UnconditionalDepressive symptoms: CES-D-104$10 per month
Kilburn et al51South AfricaCluster RCT15.5Young women between 13 and 20 years old enrolled in high school in low-income study location (n=2537)Intervention: HIV Prevention Trials Network 068 which provided transfers to young women and their parents (n=1272)
Control: no transfer (n=1261)
Conditional: 80% school days attendanceDepressive symptoms: CES-D-20
Power in relationships: 12-item sexual relationship power scale
Hopefulness: 13-item Hope scale
1–3$20 per month
Macours et al50NicaraguaCluster RCT3–7Children in low-income households between 0 and 83 months (n=4245)Intervention: Atención a Crisis cash transfer with three arms: cash transfer, cash transfer with vocational training and business skills training, and cash transfer with lump-sum payment toward business development (n=3002 households)
Control: no transfer or training (n=1019 households)
Conditional on regular health check-ups for children ages 0–5Behavioural Problems Index
Social-personal subscale of the Denver Developmental Screening Test
0.815% of per capita expenditures
Özler et al48LiberiaQuasi-experimental13.7Adolescent girls and caregivers (n=84 villages, with 1216 eligible girls and 1132 caregivers).Intervention: Girl Empower (GE), which provides a life skills curriculum to girls (n=393). The GE+ variation includes a cash incentive payment to caregivers for girls’ participation in the programme (n=400)
Control: no transfer or programme (n=383).
UnconditionalSelf-esteem: 10-item Rosenberg Scale, Depressive symptoms and anxiety: 12-item Short Mood of Feelings Questionnaire
PTSS: Children’s Revised Impact of Event Scale
2$2 per month to girls,
$1.25 per month to caregivers
Ozer et al42MexicoCluster RCT5.2Low-income households (n=506 communities)Intervention: Oportunidades
Control: no transfer (n=263)
Conditional; prenatal care, baby care, immunisation, nutrition monitoring and supplementation, and participation in health, hygiene and nutrition educationBehavior Problems Index3–5$130 (equivalent to appox. 20% increase of household income) every 2 months
Paxson and Schady49EcuadorQuasi-experimental3.3Families with children in the lowest poverty index quintiles with at least one child under the age of 6 and no children ages six or above (n=17 987)Intervention: Bono de Desarrollo Humano (n=1479)
Control: not offered the Bono until several years later (n=384)
UnconditionalBehavioural problems: Woodcock, Johnson Muñoz, Mccarthy tests Behavioural problems2$15 per month
Shangani et al47KenyaIndividual RCT14.2Low-income households with at least one orphaned and vulnerable child under 17 years (n=665 from 300 households)Intervention: Kenya’s Cash Transfer Programme for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (n=231).
Control: non-cash transfer households from the same sub-location, and non-cash transfer households from a different sub-location Control (n=424)
UnconditionalAnxiety: 28-item Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale–Revised Depressive symptoms: 11-item Child Depression Inventory (CDI)
PTSS: 28-item PTSD checklist
Future outlook: single item question
3$20 per month
Tozan et al39UgandaCluster RCT12.0Children who identified as an AIDS orphan (lost one or both parents to AIDS); living within a family (broadly defined and not an institution or orphanage); and enrolled in grades 5–6 in a public primary school in the study region.
(n=48 primary schools, 1410 children)
Intervention: Bridges to the Future (n=487) and Bridges to the Future PLUS (n=396). Economic strengthening and asset accumulation with savings matched on 1:1 rate (Bridges) or 2:1 rate (Bridges PLUS).
Control: usual care services for school-going AIDS-affected children in the region
UnconditionalDepressive symptoms: 27-item Child Depression Inventory and the 20-item Beck Hopelessness Scale. Self-concept: 20-item Tennessee Self-Concept Scale and the 29-item Youth Self-Efficacy Survey.4Bridges: 1:1 matched savings
Bridges PLUS: 2:1 matched savings
  • PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder; PTSS, post-traumatic stress syndrome; RCT, randomised controlled trial.