MSc Development Finance

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Anti-Poverty Transfers

Course unit fact file
Unit code MGDI61512
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Global Development Institute
Available as a free choice unit? No


The course provides a comprehensive examination of antipoverty transfers in developing countries. From the mid-1990s governments in developing countries have introduced large scale programmes providing direct transfers in cash and in kind to households in poverty with the objective of facilitating their sustainable exit from poverty. While current interest in these programmes has focused on their poverty reduction effectiveness, their medium term evolution shows they are emerging welfare institutions in developing countries. The course provides a unique opportunity to develop and apply elements of public economics, development economics, and labour economics to secure a firm understanding of the theoretical models underpinning these programmes and their practice and operational challenges. The course examines core issues of programme design, targeting, implementation, impact evaluation from an applied economics perspective..

Learning outcomes

 The main learning objectives of the course are:

  1. To study the role and scope of antipoverty transfer programmes in developing countries.
  2. To explore the economic models and theories of change underpinning the use of income transfers to support sustainable exit from poverty, including income maintenance, human development investment, and household resource allocation.
  3. To develop an understanding, both theoretical and practical, if the design of optimal antipoverty transfer programmes including: the targeting and selection of programme participants; the structure and level of transfers; the articulation of programme components; and programme management.
  4. To introduce and explore impact evaluation techniques as applied to the assessment of the effectiveness of antipoverty transfers.
  5. To explore the politics and political economy conditions required to sustain poverty eradication poliycies in developing countries.

Teaching and learning methods

The course consists of 9 two-hour lectures and 3 two-hour seminars.

The lectures
provide an introduction and discussion of the key relevant topics.

The seminars are practical sessions focusing on imparting specific skills and
capacities on poverty measurement, on designing antipoverty transfer programmes,
and on designing and interpreting monitoring and evaluation protocols.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Recommended reading

Course textbook

Barrientos, A. (2013), Social Assistance in Developing Countries, Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.

Background reading

Hanlon, J., Barrientos, A., & Hulme, D. (2010). Just give money to the poor: the
development revolution from the global south. Kumarian Press.
Cecchini, S. and A. Madariaga (2011), Conditional cash transfer programmes. The
recent experience in Latin America and the Caribbean, Report LC/G.2497-P,
Santiago: ECLAC.
Fiszbein, A. and N. Schady (2009), Conditional Cash Transfers. Reducing Present and
Future Poverty, Washington DC: The World Bank.
World Bank. (2015). The State of Social Safety Nets 2015 (Report). Washington D.C.:
The World Bank.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 18
Seminars 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 126

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Vidhya Unnikrishnan Unit coordinator

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