Uncovering impacts of cash transfer programmes for different groups using machine learning

Uncovering impacts of cash transfer programmes for different groups using machine learning

Date: 21 September 2022

 



Cash transfer programs have become one of the most popular approaches to poverty reduction. They have been found to be successful in a variety of contexts. Little is known however about their effectiveness for specific population groups. Do people transitioning out of poverty under cash transfer programs share specific characteristics? Which successful strategies do they adopt? Recent advances in machine learning and causal inference allow researchers to estimate heterogeneous treatment effects for different population groups. Repeating this analysis systematically for the same intervention across countries and over time helps researchers to construct a generalisable mid-range theory of poverty reduction of cash transfer interventions. We apply this approach to unconditional cash transfer programs in Ghana, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe to see what types of households were most efficient at using cash to exit poverty, and to see if these characteristics are similar across countries.


Sudhanshu (Ashu) Handa

Sudhanshu (Ashu) Handa

Institute Fellow

Ashu is Institute Fellow at the American Institutes for Research and Kenan Eminent Professor of Public Policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a human resource economist specializing in household behavior in developing countries. Together with colleagues at UNICEF and FAO, he leads a multi-country research initiative, The Transfer Project, which supports governments in evaluating their cash transfer programs. .He previously served as Chief of Social Policy and Economic Analysis, UNICEF Office of Research at Innocenti, and UNICEF Regional Social Policy Advisor in Nairobi, Kenya. Ashu was born in Ghana and is an avid supporter of the Black Stars.

Andy Mckay

Andy Mckay

Professor of Development Economics, University of Sussex Business School

Andy McKay has been professor of development economics at the University of Sussex since 2006.  He was head of the Economics Department from 2009 to 2012, and editor of the journal, The Review of Development Economics, since 2015.  He researches on development economics, especially in relation to labour issues, notably gender, youth and informality; poverty/inequality and how these are impacted by policy (trade, fiscal etc.); on agriculture; on international trade; and on issues linked to health. In terms of geographic focus, he works predominantly on Africa, especially East and West Africa, but also on Asian and Latin American countries.

He has recently led or co-led two large research projects, one on school to work transition for young females in six sub-Saharan African countries (part of an IDRC/DFID/Hewlett supported programme on growth opportunities for women) and one an ESRC/DFID project on female labour supply and escapes from poverty.  He acts as a resource person for the biannual workshops of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), a role he has played since 2005, and has served on the steering committee of AERC collaborative research projects on regional integration in Africa and on growth-poverty reduction linkages in Africa. Andy was an associate director of the DFID-funded Chronic Poverty Research Centre from 2005-11, and an active researcher from 2000-2011.

Laura Chioda

Laura Chioda

Director of Research, Institute for Business and Social Impact (IBSI)

Laura Chioda is the Director of Research at the Institute for Business and Social Impact (IBSI), at the University of California, Berkeley. In collaboration with faculty, she is responsible for formulating and developing research programs for IBSI’s strategic priorities. Laura serves as research director for LIFT, leads LIFT research partnerships and agendas, and oversees fundraising efforts.

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