Cash-Plus: Variants and Components of Transfer-Based Anti-Poverty Programming

CSAE working paper
Anuj Shah
Munshi Sulaiman
Abstract

Can extensions such as coaching and training augment the poverty relief effects of cash transfers, or do they unnecessarily constrain the agency of recipients in the allocation of program resources? We use a randomized trial to estimate the impacts of philosophically distinct variants of transfer-based poverty reduction approaches in rural Uganda. One is a microenterprise intervention in the spirit of so-called graduation programming that provides beneficiaries with an integrated package of cash transfers, coaching, and training on sustainable livelihoods; the other variant monetizes the cost of coaching and training so as to more than double the size of cash transfers. We also we evaluate the merits of more marginal individual extension components, involving savings group formation in the microenterprise variant and light-touch behavioral intervention (involving goal-setting and plan-making) in the cash variant. Overall, we build confidence that investing program resources in productive extensions can expand poverty reduction. We gain elevated confidence in the impacts and cost-effectiveness of the fully integrated microenterprise intervention.