Skip to main content

Social cash transfers, generational relations and youth poverty trajectories

This three-year collaborative research project has generated evidence about the ways in which social cash transfer (SCT) schemes intervene in and transform the structural power relations that underlie the reproduction of poverty. It has focused on rural youth and draws on qualitative research in two rural communities, one in Malawi, which has recently introduced social cash transfers to ultra-poor labour-constrained households, and the other in Lesotho which operates social pensions and child grants. The research also investigated the policy communities that designed and are implementing the schemes. It was funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council and Department for International Development.

project report

Cash transfers are viewed by recipients as invaluable for poverty reduction, but their full effects depend on how they intervene in social relations. In-depth research in recipient communities reveals:

  • Schemes that target vulnerable households are based on an inadequate understanding of household dynamics, and as a consequence are perceived as arbitrary and unfair.
  • Cash transfers to the elderly (particularly where they are universal) are perceived to be fairer than those to young adults and may contribute more to community bonds, though young people may invest more in productive activities.
  • Unearned transfers to young adults may promote social isolation; public works schemes are widely viewed as a more legitimate way of assisting young families.

View on YouTube

Please accept all cookies to view this content. Alternatively view the content on YouTube

Policy briefs

Research highlights

Research settings


Builders in Thyolo District, Malawi


Interviewing in the Maluti Mountains

View on YouTube

Please accept all cookies to view this content. Alternatively view the content on YouTube

Read our blogs

Other publications

Background of the project

Research aims



Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Partnering with confidence

UKRI Research England

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 11/08/2021