Impact on marriage: program assessment of conditional cash transfers

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Priya Nanda, Nitin Datta, Priya Das

In India, in addition to having a laws and many large civil society programs to delay early marriage, the government over the past fifteen years has initiated multiple national and state sponsored conditional cash transfer3,4 (CCT) programs with the direct or indirect aim of delaying marriage among girls (Sekher 2010).

The first such program was called Apni Beti Apna Dhan (ABAD), or “Our Daughter, Our Wealth.” Developed by the Government of Haryana in 1994, the scheme aspired to enhance the value of girls. ABAD, which operated between 1994 to 1998, is one of the first CCTs targeting girls, implemented systematically by an Indian state. To our knowledge ABAD is also unique among all large-scale CCT interventions in India, in that beneficiaries faced a protracted 18-year period before receiving any cash transfer, as the conditionality was explicitly based on delayed marriage.

The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) designed a rigorous evaluation of the ABAD program and collected data from beneficiaries and comparable non-beneficiaries in 2012, just prior to them turning 18. A second round of data will be collected in 2014, after the older girls have reached 18, to measure the effect on delayed marriage as well as to understand the cashing out process and how the benefit has been used. This research brief describes the findings from the first survey implemented in 2012-2013. The main outcome of interest is the educational attainment of beneficiary girls versus comparable non-beneficiary girls.