Preferences for conditioning and being conditioned - experimental & survey evidence from Zambia

Esther Schuering


While conditionality is a frequently discussed topic among policy-makers and cooperating partners when it comes to social cash transfers, less attention has been paid to the views of the general public and beneficiaries in low-income countries. Using qualitative, survey and experimental evidence from Zambia, this study contrasts the perceptions of beneficiaries and the broader public with those of policy-makers and assesses the factors that influence choices about imposing conditionality. As long as conditionality is not so rigorously enforced that it leads to greater tension, conditionality meets the interests of policy-makers, the general public and beneficiaries alike, exerting the necessary control for transfer givers and the guidance for transfer recipients. The experiment, however, also demonstrates that conditionality preferences are neither homogeneous nor static and are likely to change with more exposure to social cash transfers and conditionality.

Key words: conditionality, social cash transfers, political economy, empowerment