GiveWell's summary of GiveDirectly's experimentation work [Q1 2019]
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Last updated:April 2019
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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 12Link 13
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Coffee studyCompletedGiveDirectly is implementing an RCT to study the effect of cash transfers on coffee farming communities. The study is intended to provide insight into a) how recipients with high investment return opportunities (i.e. coffee farms) are affected by cash transfers, and b) the overall impact of GiveDirectly’s work in a Ugandan (rather than Kenyan) context. The study may also enable its funder, Benckiser Stiftung Zukunft (BSZ), to compare the cost-effectiveness of cash transfers with the cost-effectiveness of other antipoverty interventions for coffee farmers that it funds. As of April 2017, more than 90% of transfers were complete and all transfers were expected to be completed by July 2017. Endline data collection was completed in May 2018, and analysis was completed by September 2018. Results were published in May 2019 (see link 7).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.pdfhttp://files.givewell.org/files/conversations/Michael_Cooke_04-17-17_(public).pdfConversation with Joe Huston, June 11, 2018https://www.givedirectly.org/pdf/Cash_Crop_Ugandan_CoffeeRCT.pdf
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RCT of GiveDirectly's Rarieda campaignCompletedIPA conducted an 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.
Two further working papers from the study were published in Q1 2019 (on female empowerment and on income elasticity for nutrition) - see links 4 and 5
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
http://www.princeton.edu/haushofer/publications/Haushofer_Ringdal_Shapiro_Wang_IPV_2019-02-24.pdf
http://www.princeton.edu/haushofer/publications/Almaas_Haushofer_Shapiro_Elasticities_NBER_2019.pdf
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Small-scale RCT of cash transfers to young womenCompletedIPA 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 phoneCompletedIPA 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 targetingCompletedGiveDirectly 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 were inconclusive, and that when faced with the decision of how to allocate limited resources, focus groups preferred to prioritize thatched-roof households.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 targetingCompletedGiveDirectly 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 programCompletedGiveDirectly and The Rockefeller Foundation developed a strategy for offering index-based insurance to cash transfer recipients. 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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BiometricsCompletedGiveDirectly 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 BayCompletedGiveDirectly 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.http://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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Gender contractsCompletedGiveDirectly ran a small pilot of informal contracts between spouses receiving cash transfers in the spring of 2015. External research partners evaluated 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 it may follow up with a larger RCT, but is not planning to do so in the near term because it does not have adequate funding. The small pilot study and analysis are complete. Results are summarized in the blog post here: https://givedirectly.org/blog-post?id=5232788732927667500http://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.pdfhttps://givedirectly.org/blog-post?id=5232788732927667500[Archived version of source at left] http://web.archive.org/web/20170906085324/https://givedirectly.org/blog-post?id=5232788732927667500http://files.givewell.org/files/conversations/Michael_Cooke_04-17-17_(public).pdf
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Benchmarking cash to a nutrition programCompletedGiveDirectly worked with IPA and the Development Impact Lab to compare the impacts of an integrated nutrition and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) intervention implemented by Catholic Relief Services to the impacts of two sizes of cash transfer: (i) a transfer whose total cost was matched to the total cost of the nutrition intervention ($142 per household, with $114 being transferred), and (ii) a larger transfer that GiveDirectly estimated to be maximally cost-effective for improving nutrition outcomes ($532).Full results were published in September 2018 (see link 1, which also contains links to media coverage).https://www.poverty-action.org/study/benchmarking-wash-and-nutrition-program-cash-rwanda
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General equilibrium studyData collected, analysis in processBased 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 a randomized controlled trial (RCT) examining the macroeconomic effects of GiveDirectly's program in Kenya. As of April 2017, all transfers had been made, the last set of pre-analysis plans was being finalized, and nearly all data collection was complete. As of September 2017, the research team was beginning to analyze the data on 18-month effects. A longer-term follow-up survey will launch around September 2019. Early results focusing on spillover impacts were shared with GiveWell in October 2018 and published by GiveWell in November 2018 (see link 7; note that this page has been updated since November 2018). As of April 2019, full results were expected in June 2019.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 planhttp://files.givewell.org/files/conversations/Michael_Cooke_04-17-17_(public).pdfConversation with Joe Huston, June 11, 2018https://www.givewell.org/international/technical/programs/cash-transfers/spillovers
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Transfer designs studyData collected, analysis in processGiveDirectly and ideas42 conducted an RCT on ~550 households that randomized a) whether recipients received payments immediately or after a delay, b) the amount of information that recipients received initially about potential investments they could make, and c) whether participants who received transfers received a lump sum or smooth payment structure, with 55% chance of receiving their stated preference if available. GiveDirectly shared some initial analysis of the endline results with us in April 2017 and expects the researchers to publish a paper on the study in the future. As of April 2019, a paper had not yet been published on this study.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)http://files.givewell.org/files/conversations/Michael_Cooke_04-17-17_(public).pdfConversation with Joe Huston, June 11, 2018
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Aspirations studyData collected, analysis in processGiveDirectly is running an RCT in 420-430 villages looking at the effects of showing them a brief video and providing interaction with a coach in conjunction with cash transfers. As of April 2017, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) had completed a baseline survey and GiveDirectly had completed enrollment of all participants who will receive transfers; GiveDirectly expected the intervention to be complete by July 2017.The first endline survey was completed and several pre-analysis plans were published in Q1 2019. Subsequent follow-ups may be conducted if the research team receives more funding. As of April 2019, first results were expected in Q2 2019.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, 2016http://www.givewell.org/international/charities/ipa/may-2016-granthttp://files.givewell.org/files/conversations/Michael_Cooke_04-17-17_(public).pdfConversation with Joe Huston, June 11, 2018
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Benchmarking cash to a youth employment programOngoingGiveDirectly is working with IPA and the Development Impact Lab to compare the impact of Huguka Dukore, a youth employment intervention implemented by the Education Development Center, to the impacts that would have been observed if the same cost per beneficiary were distributed directly as a cash transfer by GiveDirectly.A baseline survey was completed between November 2017 and February 2018. All GiveDirectly enrollment and transfers have been completed. As of April 2019, the first endline survey is scheduled to take place from June 2019 to August 2019.
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Basic income guarantee studyOngoingGiveDirectly 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 in 300 villages and provide a basic income for either 2 or 12 years to every adult enrolled (with a control group receiving lump-sum transfers). The income will likely be close to $0.75 per adult per day. 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.As of April 2019, the first endline data collection is expected to launch in Q3 2019.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
http://files.givewell.org/files/conversations/Michael_Cooke_04-17-17_(public).pdf
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RCT of large cash transfers to refugeesOngoingGiveDirectly is working with IDinsight to evaluate the impact of $1,000 cash transfers to ~10,000 refugee households in the Kiryandongo refugee settlement in Uganda through an RCT, coupled with longitudinal in-depth qualitative interviews. A non-experimental evaluation will also assess the impact of the program on surrounding communities of 'host' Ugandan nationals who will also receive transfers.As of April 2019, the baseline survey is scheduled to launch in September 2019.
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Standalone cash benchmark - LiberiaOngoingGiveDirectly is working with IPA and the Development Impact Lab to evaluate the impact of a range of transfer sizes ($250, $500, $750) and transfer timings (lump sums vs quarterly 'flow' payments) on a wide range of outcomes for rural Liberian households, in order to provide USAID/Liberia with a cash benchmark against which the impacts of a wide range of traditional programming can be compared. A cross-cutting 'cash plus' market access intervention will explore whether providing greater market access to agricultural inputs increases the cost-effectiveness of cash transfers in the Liberian context.The study is being undertaken in two 'waves' to accommodate the long rainy season in Liberia. As of April 2019, the baseline survey for wave 1 has been completed and GiveDirectly enrollment is underway. Wave 2 baseline is scheduled to launch in Q4 2019.
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Standalone cash benchmark - MalawiOngoingGiveDirectly is working with IPA and the Development Impact Lab to evaluate the impact of a range of transfer sizes ($250, $500, $750) (all lump sums) on a wide range of outcomes for rural Malawian households, in order to provide USAID/Malawi with a cash benchmark against which the impacts of a wide range of traditional programming can be compared. A cross-cutting 'cash plus' market access intervention will explore whether providing greater market access to agricultural inputs increases the cost-effectiveness of cash transfers in the Malawian context.As of April 2019, the baseline survey had launched in April 2019 and is expected to be completed in August 2019.
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Standalone cash benchmark - DRC youthFutureGiveDirectly is working with the Development Impact Lab and Marakuja Kivu Research to evaluate the impact of a range of transfer sizes ($500, $1000) on a wide range of outcomes for Congolese youth living in Goma, in order to provide USAID/DRC with a cash benchmark against which the impacts of a wide range of traditional youth programming can be compared.The study is currently in the planning phase.
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Complementarity of cash and youth training in DRCFutureGiveDirectly is working with the Development Impact Lab and Marakuja Kivu Research to evaluate the impact of an Integrated Youth Development Activity (IYDA) implemented by Catholic Relief Services and the Education Development Center, both as a standalone intervention and when paired with a $750 cash transfer implemented by GiveDirectly and delivered 9-12 months after the IYDA has launched. This will provide USAID/DRC with evidence on both the impact of a traditional program and the extent to which there are complementarities between IYDA and a cash transfer program.The study is currently in the planning phase.
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