Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘cash’

ns_ke_20170418_givedirectly17-69_custom-786e5ac5bc5d1399b39a1e3335cc377aff73ff1a-s600-c85

Photo: Nichole Sobecki for NPR
The cypress sapling above was purchased with money received from the charity GiveDirectly in 2017. More recently, the charity teamed up with researchers to study the impact of cash grants on a wider Kenyan community.

Here’s a new way to look at “trickle down.” Unlike the wealthy, who are more likely to put extra cash into savings, poor people who receive cash actually spread the wealth around. Read about the results of a new study in Kenya.

Nurith Aizenman reports at National Public Radio [NPR], “Over the past decade there has been a surge of interest in a novel approach to helping the world’s poor: Instead of giving them goods like food or services like job training, just hand out cash — with no strings attached. Now a major new study suggests that people who get the aid aren’t the only ones who benefit.

“Edward Miguel, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, and a co-author of the study, says that until now, research on cash aid has almost exclusively focused on the impact on those receiving the aid. And a wealth of research suggests that when families are given the power to decide how to spend it, they manage the money in ways that improve their overall well-being: Kids get more schooling; the family’s nutrition and health improves.

“But Miguel says that ‘as nonprofits and governments are ramping up cash aid, it becomes more and more important to understand the broader economy-wide consequences.’

“In particular, there has been rising concern about the potential impact on the wider community — the people who are not getting the aid. …

“Miguel and his collaborators teamed up to conduct an experiment with one of the biggest advocates of cash aid. It’s a charity called GiveDirectly that, since 2009, has given out more than $140 million to impoverished families in various African countries.

“The researchers identified about 65,000 households across an impoverished, rural area of Kenya and then randomly assigned them to various groups: those who got no help from GiveDirectly and a ‘treatment group’ of about 10,500 families who got a one-time cash grant of about $1,000. …

“Eighteen months on, the researchers found that, as expected, the families who got the money used it to buy lots more food and other essentials. But that was just the beginning.

” ‘That money goes to local businesses,’ says Miguel. ‘They sell more. They generate more revenue. And then eventually that gets passed on into labor earnings for their workers.’

The net effect: Every dollar in cash aid increased total economic activity in the area by $2.60.

“But were those income gains simply washed out by a corresponding rise in inflation?

” ‘We actually find there’s a little bit of price inflation, but it’s really small,’ says Miguel. ‘It’s much less than 1%.’

“The study — recently released through the website of the National Bureau of Economic Research — also uncovered some evidence for why prices didn’t go up: A lot of local businesses reported that before the cash infusion they weren’t that busy.

“So when they suddenly get more customers, they don’t have to take extra steps like hiring more workers that would drive up their costs — and their prices. In economic parlance, there was enough ‘slack’ in the local economy to absorb the injection of cash.

“Eeshani Kandpal is an economist with the World Bank who has done research of her own on cash transfers — including a study that found that a cash aid program in the Philippines did drive up the cost of certain perishable food items. …

“The new study has a far broader scope, says Kandpal — encompassing not just a much larger number of participants but a vast range of goods and businesses whose pricing practices the researchers meticulously monitored.

” ‘It’s a super credible, interesting study,’ says Kandpal. ‘And very carefully done. … I’d be curious to see if they persist in the longer run,’ she says. ‘Eighteen months is certainly not short. But it’s not terribly long either.’ …

“Michael Faye, co-founder and president of GiveDirectly, says even if it turns out that a one-time cash infusion provides only a temporary boost, ‘I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.’ ”

And wouldn’t you rather see poor folks getting more money than wealthy people and corporations? I myself am doing OK and would really like to experience a more equitable world in my lifetime. More here.

Read Full Post »

Photo: The Daily Star
A temporary refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese town of Marj near the border with Syria.

Tina Rosenberg has an interesting op-ed at the NY Times about how aid groups in Lebanon are making life easier both for themselves and for the refugees that have flooded the country.

“Consider Lebanon, a country of 4.5 million people that has taken in probably close to 1.5 million Syrians fleeing their civil war. …

“In 2004, 99 percent of the world’s humanitarian aid came in the form of commodities: sacks of grain, stacks of blankets, building materials. Last year, that number had fallen to about 94 percent, according to a committee financed by Britain’s Department for International Development to study how best to use cash in humanitarian aid.

“Cash is catching on. A decade ago, the United Nations World Food Program was trying out cash in a few pilot programs. Now cash makes up a quarter of the organization’s portfolio …

“Since it’s easier, safer and carries less risk of corruption to provide cash electronically instead of handing people envelopes of bills, mechanisms should exist for debit cards or cellphone banking. …

“It’s no problem in Lebanon, a middle-income country known for commerce. … Here’s how it works: Each needy Syrian refugee family gets a banking card. Family members use it to shop for food at the 450 participating stores and markets; a family of five gets about $135 per month. …

“Many humanitarian groups in Lebanon help with sanitation systems and other in-kind assistance. Many run schools, or provide skills or business training. The cash is intended to address (a little; it’s not really enough to live on) refugees’ most urgent problems: What’s for dinner? Where am I sleeping?

“ ‘There is nothing that could replace cash,’ said Alan Moseley, the Lebanon country director for the International Rescue Committee, a member of the Lebanon Cash Consortium. ‘If we provided shelter materials, clothing, food or direct rent subsidies, it would be more costly to deliver and people would be getting things they don’t necessarily need.’ ”

More.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: