Publication Date



Financial resources are known to affect health outcomes. Many types of social policies and programs, including social assistance and social insurance, have been implemented around the world to increase financial resources. As an overall term, we refer to these as cash transfers. In this article, we discuss whether, how, for whom, and to what extent purposeful cash transfers may improve health, both theoretically and empirically. The overall finding is that cash transfers are very positive, but as usual, there are many complexities and variations. Continuing research and policy innovation—for example, universal basic income and universal Child Development Accounts—are likely to be productive.

Forthcoming in the Annual Review of Public Health
This paper is posted with permission from the Annual Review of Public Health, Volume 42. Copyright 2021 Annual Reviews,

Document Type

Working Paper


Financial Inclusion


Asset Building

Original Citation

Sun, S., Huang, J., Hudson, D., & Sherraden, M. (2020). Cash transfers and health (CSD Working Paper No. 20-16). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.


cash transfers ; health ; social policy ; race ; income ; wealth ; social determinants of health ; socioeconomic status ;