Cash Transfers for Child Health Initiative

A child's blood is collected in a microcuvette
Vandana Sharma | J-PAL
Hosted by J-PAL South Asia at IFMR, the Cash Transfers for Child Health Initiative (CaTCH) seeks to improve child health by generating policy-relevant rigorous evidence on the design and delivery of cash transfer and pay-for-performance programs in India.

This initiative is made possible with the generous support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. CaTCH has provided research funding to J-PAL affiliates and invited researchers to conduct randomised evaluations and scoping studies on promising cash transfer and incentives programs in collaboration with several state governments in India. 

Over the last several decades, government agencies in India at both the national and state level have introduced a number of cash transfer programs that aim to improve educational, maternal and child health, girl child or other social welfare outcomes. However, there is limited credible evidence on the impact of these programs on outcomes, as very few of these programs have been rigorously evaluated, and none through a randomized evaluation. The current push towards cash transfer programs in India provides an opportunity for researchers to rigorously study these programs and understand their impacts. CaTCH aims to catalyse this research that studies the impact of various cash transfer mechanisms that aim to improve child health. These transfers generally fall into three groups:

  • Unconditional Cash Transfers (UCT)
  • Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT)
  • Pay for Performance (P4P)

While cash serves as the primary means of transfer, CaTCH also looks at cash alternatives such as in-kind transfers and vouchers.

Child health indicators of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Infant mortality rates
  • Nutrition outcomes
  • Immunization completion rates
  • Anemia prevalence
  • Diarrhea incidence
  • Health service usage

The initiative has completed comprehensive reviews of existing evidence on cash transfer programs, globally and in India, and on pay-for-performance incentives in low- and middle-income countries. Using these reviews, J-PAL affiliates and invited researchers may identify key research gaps and potential government partners for collaboration to fund promising evaluations of government funded and implemented cash transfer and pay-for-performance programs. We expect that evidence generated by the initiative will help governments across India scale-up evidence-based approaches to improve child health and enhance the delivery of existing programs.

Key Facts

  • Research RFP: Closed
All J-PAL affiliates, postdoctoral fellows, invited researchers, and graduate students with a J-PAL affiliate as an adviser, may apply to the CaTCH initiative during RFP proposal cycles for projects in India.


For researchers

Request for Proposals

Proposals were due July 9, 2021 for the Indian Scholars Program. Indian researchers who have completed a PhD in Economics, Public Policy, Public Health or a related empirical discipline, and currently hold an academic or research position at an Indian university were eligible to apply.

Under Child and Maternal Health and Family Planning theme of the Indian Scholars Program, CaTCH will fund the following types of proposals:

  1. Proposal Development Grants:
    • Proposal development grants enable researchers to visit implementing partners and engage in preparatory research in order to secure support from potential partners for a randomized evaluation. These grants should ideally be aimed towards supporting a pilot study proposal or a full research project proposal in the future.
    • These grants are limited to a maximum of US$5,000.
  2. Pilot and Scoping Studies:
    • Pilots are defined as studies with a clear research question, but require piloting for one or more of the following:
      • The design and implementation of the evaluation requires further testing, pilot data, scoping activities and/or partnership development;
      • The feasibility of some aspects of program design has not yet been demonstrated under “real world” conditions.
    • These grants are limited to a maximum amount of US$25,000
  3. Randomized Evaluations:
    • These grants are for rapid full evaluations that will be completed by February 2022. The proposal should include a clear research question, a robust randomization design and description of the treatment, a theory of change, well-defined research instruments, and sample size estimates.
    • The proposal should also include a description of how the research may be used to inform specific policies and programmes related to child health, maternal health or women’s work and economic agency. 
    • These grants are limited to a maximum of US$67,500.

Proposal guidelines are available here

Initiative Staff

Moulshri Mohan, Senior Policy and Training Associate

Sai Pitre, Predoctoral Fellow

Urvashi Wattal, Senior Policy and Training Manager