GiveWell's summary of GiveDirectly's experimentation work
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Last updated:November 2016
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Sources and more information
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StudyStatusDescriptionResults available?Link 1Link 2Link 3Link 4Link 5Link 6Link 7Link 8Link 9Link 10Link 11Link 12
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Macroeconomic effectsOngoingBased on conversations with policymakers, GiveDirectly found that a key question relevant to government cash transfer programs is the impact they have on macroeconomic factors such as inflation and job creation. GiveDirectly is working to conduct an RCT examining the macroeconomic effects of GiveDirectly's program in Kenya. Endline data collection was expected to be completed by the end of 2016; as of September 2016, midline data was still being analyzed.https://www.givedirectly.org/pdf/General%20Equilibrium%20Effects%20of%20Cash%20Transfers%20Pre-Reg.pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/conversations/GiveDirectly%207-7-14%20(public).pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/GiveDirectly_Update_for_GiveWell_on_experimentation_September_2016.pdfUnpublished: GiveDirectly, GE research and measurement plan
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Behavioral interventions (Ideas42 study)OngoingGiveDirectly is conducting an RCT of two main behavioral interventions: (a) enabling recipients to decide when and how to receive their transfer payments, and (b) providing more information to recipients about spending options.This study began in late October 2014 and endline results are expected to be available in early 2017.http://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/201409029%20GW-GD%20annual%20update.pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/20140723_GW%20GD%20quarterly%20update.pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/20140408%20GD-GW%20update%20(public).pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/Slide_deck_for_5-28-15_conversation_%5bredacted%5d.pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/GiveDirectly_Update_for_GiveWell_on_experimentation_September_2016.pdfUnpublished: Conversation with Stuart Skeates, GiveDirectly, October 20-21, 2014 (unpublished)
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Gender contractsOngoingGiveDirectly ran a small pilot of informal contracts between spouses receiving cash transfers in the spring of 2015. External research partners are evaluating the impacts of the contracts on domestic violence and female empowerment. After the initial study group was completed, GiveDirectly piloted a second round in early 2016. GiveDirectly has said that if the pilot is successful it will be expanded into a larger-scale project.As of September 2016, GiveDirectly had completed the small pilot and was planning to analyze the results.http://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/201409029%20GW-GD%20annual%20update.pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/GiveDirectly_Update_for_GiveWell_February_2016.pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/GiveDirectly_Update_for_GiveWell_on_experimentation_September_2016.pdf
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Aspirations studyOngoingGiveDirectly is running an RCT in 180 villages looking at the effects of showing recipients a motivational video before their participation in GiveDirectly's program. A pilot of the intervention was completed, and baseline data collection was nearly finished as of September 2016.GiveDirectly does not expect results from this study for several years.http://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/GiveDirectly_Update_for_GiveWell_on_experimentation_September_2016.pdfUnpublished: GiveDirectly, Aspirations study proposalUnpublished: Paul Niehaus and Ian Bassin, conversation with GiveWell, September 15, 2016
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Coffee studyOngoingGiveDirectly is implementing an RCT to study the effect of cash transfers on coffee farming communities, and as of September 2016 it was finishing enrollment for the study. The study is intended to provide insight into how recipients with high investment return opportunities (i.e., coffee farms) are affected by cash transfers.Results are expected in 2018.http://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/GiveDirectly_Coffee_study_design.pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/GiveDirectly_Update_for_GiveWell_on_experimentation_September_2016.pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/GiveDirectly_Update_for_GiveWell_February_2016.pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/GiveDirectly_Update_for_GiveWell_on_experimentation_September_2016.pdf
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High throughput campaignOngoingGiveDirectly is currently testing a more streamlined version of its program that removes the back check and token payment steps of its process. It hopes to use the streamlined process in 2017 to increase the amount of cash it can transfer per staff member. GiveDirectly intends to implement this model in Rwanda.GiveDirectly expects to have finished the majority of its testing by the end of 2016.http://files.givewell.org/files/conversations/Ian_Bassin_Piali_Mukhopadhyay_08-23-16_(public).pdfUnpublished: Ian Bassin, COO, Domestic, GiveDirectly, email to GiveWell, October 11, 2016
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RCT of GiveDirectly's Rarieda campaignPastInnovations for Poverty Action (IPA) conducted a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of GiveDirectly's program in which eligible households were selected randomly to receive cash transfers. These transfers were made in Rarieda, Kenya in 2011-2012. GiveDirectly publicly provided the plan for collecting and analyzing data to determine the impact of these transfers.The RCT has been published; we discuss it in detail at this link: http://www.givewell.org/international/technical/programs/cash-transfers#RCTofGiveDirectlysprogram.http://www.princeton.edu/~joha/publications/Haushofer_Shapiro_Policy_Brief_2013.pdf[Archived version of source at left] http://web.archive.org/web/20151210020313/http://www.princeton.edu/~joha/publications/Haushofer_Shapiro_Policy_Brief_2013.pdfhttp://www.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/GiveDirectly%2C%20Rarieda%20transfer%20schedule%2C%20August%202013.xls
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Small-scale RCT of cash transfers to young womenPastIPA conducted an RCT of GiveDirectly's Nike campaign, which provided transfers exclusively to young women ages 18-19. GiveDirectly shared IPA's survey instrument with us prior to the study. We did not see an analysis plan prior to the study, as we did with the Rarieda RCT.The study is now complete, and GiveDirectly has shared its write-up, as well as a qualitative piece on the perspectives of the young women involved in the study, which was prepared for GiveDirectly by an independent researcher; we have reviewed these documents.http://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/2014%20final%20report_girls%20pilot.pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/Nike%20Instrument%20V2.pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/141128.0847%20Final%20Report%20-%20The%20Perspectives%20of%20Young%20Women%20in%20Siaya.pdf
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Extended data collection by phonePastIPA received a $30,200 grant to extend data collection in a sub-sample of participants from the Rarieda RCT using mobile phone-based data collection techniques. The goals of the project were to generate data on longer-term effects of cash transfers (up to two years after completion of the RCT), as well as to study the potential for using mobile phones as cost-effective, easily adaptable tools for data gathering.GiveDirectly has sent us the results from this study; they include information on the follow-up rates achieved by different types of surveys and on what participants in the study were thinking about before they were called or texted.http://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/DILDemo%20Proposal.pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/DILDemo%20Proposal.pdf[Archived version of source at left] http://web.archive.org/web/20151029190343/http://pdel.ucsd.edu/financial-services/impact-of-givedirectly.htmlhttp://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/Paul_Niehaus_and_Johannes_Haushofer_Optimizing_Impact_for_the_Mobile_Era_Final_Report.pdf
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Broadening eligibility with more inclusive targetingPastGiveDirectly conducted a small-scale study in Kenya to see whether more inclusive targeting criteria could reduce tension and conflict within villages.GiveDirectly found that data collected on adverse events was inconclusive, and that when faced with the decision of how to allocate limited resources, focus groups preferred to prioritize thatched-roof households. We put limited weight on these results due to the small sample size of the study and would be interested in seeing further research on this question.http://files.givewell.org/files/conversations/GiveDirectly%208-27-13%20(public).pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/conversations/GiveDirectly,%20April%208,%202014%20(public).pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/Saturation%20analysis.pdfUnpublished: Conversation with Carolina Toth, Field Director, GiveDirectly, October 24, 2013
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Community-based targetingPastGiveDirectly piloted community-based targeting, where village residents help determine who should receive cash transfers. GiveDirectly does not expect to implement this targeting method more broadly.A summary of what was learned is available here, on page 11: http://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/20140723_GW%20GD%20quarterly%20update.pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/20140723_GW%20GD%20quarterly%20update.pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/conversations/Conversation%20with%20GiveDirectly%20field%20staff,%20October%2020-21,%202014%20(public).pdf
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Index-based crop insurance programPastGiveDirectly and The Rockefeller Foundation developed a strategy for offering index-based insurance to cash transfer recipients (details on index-based insurance in footnote). GiveDirectly then ran a small-scale test of the program in western Kenya, simulating a government cash transfer program.GiveDirectly found that the cost of the program was lower than the cost of previous index-based insurance programs and a higher rate of people bought insurance.Unpublished: GiveDirectly, Rockefeller index insurance update, July 2015Unpublished: Paul Niehaus and Carolina Toth, conversation with GiveWell, September 7, 2015
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BiometricsPastGiveDirectly has tested the use of biometrics to enhance security in Uganda. GiveDirectly may continue to use biometrics in contexts where national IDs are uncommon.A summary of what was learned is available here, on page 10: http://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/GiveDirectly_Update_for_GiveWell_September_2015.pdf.http://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/GiveDirectly_Update_for_GiveWell_September_2015.pdfhttp://www.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/GiveWell_GiveDirectly_follow_up_surveys_summary_Uganda_September_2015_%28note_we_have_anonymized%29.xlsxhttp://files.givewell.org/files/conversations/GiveDirectly,%20April%208,%202014%20(public).pdf
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Eligibility requirements in Homa BayPastGiveDirectly experimented with new eligibility requirements because a) it needed new eligibility requirements for Homa Bay County, where grass is scarce and thus thatch roofs are less common, and b) knowing how to use a number of different eligibility requirements increases GiveDirectly's ability to work in new areas.GiveDirectly chose new eligibility requirements for Homa Bay in October 2015; see http://www.givewell.org/node/2801#The_assets_and_vulnerability_status_criteriahttp://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/GiveDirectly_Update_for_GiveWell_September_2015.pdfUnpublished: Paul Niehaus and Carolina Toth, conversation with GiveWell, September 7, 2015Unpublished: GiveDirectly, Uganda 2M campaign enrollment database
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Basic income guarantee studyFutureGiveDirectly is planning to begin a study of providing long-term, ongoing cash transfers sufficient for basic needs ("basic income guarantee") in 2017; it launched a pilot of the program in October 2016. The study is expected to include approximately 30,000 individuals and provide a basic income for either 2 or 12 years to every adult enrolled. The income will likely be close to $0.75 per day. GiveDirectly may solicit input from recipients when determining the timing of the basic income transfers; GiveDirectly suspects most recipients will want to receive larger, more infrequent payments.
GiveDirectly told us that recently policymakers, academics, and others have shown an increased interest in universal basic income experiments and GiveDirectly believes the project could have significant policy impact. We and GiveDirectly believe that the direct impact of the program (excluding any potential policy impact) is likely to be less cost-effective than GiveDirectly's standard campaign (more).
Not yet; GiveDirectly plans to begin this study in 2017.http://files.givewell.org/files/conversations/Paul_Niehaus_Ian_Bassin_Carolina_Toth_02-23-16_(public).pdfhttp://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2016/04/14/universal_basic_income_this_nonprofit_is_about_to_test_it_in_a_big_way.html[Archived version of source at left] http://web.archive.org/web/20160505175544/http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2016/04/14/universal_basic_income_this_nonprofit_is_about_to_test_it_in_a_big_way.htmlhttp://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/GiveDirectly_Update_for_GiveWell_on_experimentation_September_2016.pdfhttps://www.givedirectly.org/blog-post?id=1661453965212133714[Archived version of source at left] http://web.archive.org/web/20161007002057/https://www.givedirectly.org/blog-post?id=1661453965212133714http://www.vox.com/2016/4/14/11410904/givedirectly-basic-income[Archived version of source at left] http://web.archive.org/web/20160505182904/http://www.vox.com/2016/4/14/11410904/givedirectly-basic-incomehttp://files.givewell.org/files/conversations/Paul_Niehaus_Ian_Bassin_Carolina_Toth_02-23-16_(public).pdfhttps://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/4lvvai/im_paul_niehaus_of_givedirectly_were_testing_a/[Archived version of source at left] http://web.archive.org/web/20160603194620/https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/4lvvai/im_paul_niehaus_of_givedirectly_were_testing_a/Unpublished: Paul Niehaus and Ian Bassin, conversation with GiveWell, September 15, 2016
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Providing cash transfers in an urban settingFuture (under consideration)This project was deprioritized due to a lack of interest from stakeholders.No.http://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/20140723_GW%20GD%20quarterly%20update.pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/Slide_Deck_for_2-20-15_conversation_%5bredacted%5d.pdf
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Providing cash transfers as humanitarian reliefFuture (under consideration)As of July 2014, GiveDirectly was considering expanding their model to include providing cash transfers as humanitarian relief.No.http://files.givewell.org/files/DWDA%202009/GiveDirectly/20140723_GW%20GD%20quarterly%20update.pdf
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Providing cash transfers to sex workersFuture (under consideration)This project would be designed in part to examine the impact of cash transfers on HIV outcomes. As of early 2016, GiveDirectly had deprioritized this project.No.http://files.givewell.org/files/conversations/Paul_Niehaus_Ian_Bassin_Carolina_Toth_02-23-16_(public).pdf
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Facilitating the pooling of recipient funds for public goods projectsFuture (under consideration)Cash transfers currently fund private goods. GiveDirectly is considering experimenting with a system whereby transfer recipients could propose public goods projects and individuals could pool their resources to fund projects they consider worthwhile.No.http://files.givewell.org/files/conversations/Paul%20Niehaus,%20GiveDirectly,%209-5-2014%20(public).pdf
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