Conflict-sensitive cash transfers: social cohesion

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Helpdesk Query:

Are there documented positive social cohesion benefits from cash transfers over vouchers?

What lessons are there from humanitarian contexts, as well as the wider debate on universal basic incomes that use cash approaches in more stable settings?


The literature suggests that the effects of social protection initiatives such as cash transfers and vouchers on social cohesion are positive, but there is very little empirical evidence to back this. This review found no research comparing cash transfers and vouchers from the perspective of social cohesion.

However, experience of cash transfers in developing countries, including post-conflict contexts, indicates that these can help promote social cohesion but can also undermine it by creating divisions between beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries. Targeting is a critical factor in determining impact.

Universal basic income (UBI) schemes (universal, unconditional transfers) are being tried in a number of largely developed countries. Evidence from those and pilot schemes in developing countries suggests that UBI could promote social cohesion.

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