Between October 2007 and January 2008, baseline surveys were conducted with 3,796 girls in 176 Enumeration Areas (EAs) in Zomba district of Malawi. These girls were selected based on information collected during a listing exercise, which involved going door to door to all households in these 176 EAs. This listing exercise identified all never-married, 13-22 year old females living in the area. We sampled all dropouts and 75-100% of current school girls, where the percentage sampled depended on the age of the girl.
Out of the 3,796 girls sampled in 176 EAs, 1,225 girls in 88 treatment EAs were sampled to receive cash transfers. From December 2007 through January 2008 offers were made to all these girls and, except for a few girls who turned out to be ineligible, close to 100% accepted. The offer consisted of a household transfer and a transfer directly to the girl, as well as full payment of school fees for girls in secondary school. The household amount was randomly varied across EAs from $4/month to $10/month, with all recipients in a given EA receiving the same amount. To determine the individual transfer amount, girls participated in a lottery where they picked bottle caps out of an envelope to win an amount between $1/month and $5/month.
We randomly assigned half of the 176 EAs to receive the intervention (treatment), and the rest serve as the control group. Within each treatment community, all never-married 13-22 year-old recent dropouts who are eligible to return to primary or secondary school are identified and always treated (with conditional cash transfers). We denote this core treatment group as T1. The same universe of would-be-eligible girls was identified in control communities, denoted by C1. Our second group of eligible girls are never married 13-22 year old school girls who are eligible to return to Standard 7-Form 4. We randomly assigned treatment communities into three categories: those where school girls receive transfers conditional on school attendance (T2.a), those where school girls receive unconditional transfers (T2.b), and finally those where no school girls receive any cash transfers (S2). In addition, within T2.a and T2.b communities, a randomly selected subset of school girls receives no transfers. The sample of untreated school girls in treatment villages, i.e. in T2.a, T2.b, and S2 only, will allow us to identify any spillover effects of the program. This same universe of would-be-eligible school girls are also identified in the control communities, denoted by C2. Within treatment communities, we provide monthly cash transfers separately to the school girl and her parents/guardians as described above, and randomly vary the amount transferred to the parents/guardians across EAs, and the amount transferred to the girls within each EA.