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CCTs for Pees: Cash Transfers Halloween Edition

Berk Ozler's picture

Subsidies to increase utilization are used in all sorts of fields and I have read more than my fair share of CCT papers. However, until last week, I had not come across a scheme that paid people to purchase their urine. Given that I am traveling and the fact that I am missing Halloween, I thought I’d share (I hope it’s not TMI)…
Here is the abstract of an article by Tilley and Günther (2016), published in Sustainability:
In the developing world, having access to a toilet does not necessarily imply use: infrequent or non-use limits the desired health outcomes of improved sanitation. We examine the sanitation situation in a rural part of South Africa where recipients of novel, waterless “urine-diverting dry toilets” are not regularly using them. In order to determine if small, conditional cash transfers (CCT) could motivate families to use their toilets more, we paid for urine via different incentive-based interventions: two were based on volumetric pricing and the third was a flat-rate payment (irrespective of volume). A flat-rate payment (approx. €1) resulted in the highest rates of regular (weekly) participation at 59%. The low volumetric payment (approx. €0.05/L) led to regular participation rates of only 12% and no increase in toilet use. The high volumetric payment (approx. €0.1/L) resulted in lower rates of regular participation (35%), but increased the average urine production per household per day by 74%. As a first example of conditional cash transfers being used in the sanitation sector, we show that they are an accepted and effective tool for increasing toilet use, while putting small cash payments in the hands of poor, largely unemployed populations in rural South Africa.”

Randomizing Competition: allowing CCT recipients to get more goods for their money

David McKenzie's picture
The Dominican Republic’s Solidaridad conditional cash transfer program provides its monetary transfers to poor families in the form of a debit card that can only be used at a network of grocery stores affiliated with the program (it does this in part to ensure they spend the money on food). The typical monthly transfer is about $36, which is 17% of median monthly food expenditure.

More on the “just give them cash” debate for small business growth

David McKenzie's picture
There has been a lot of recent debate and discussion about the role of cash grants in aid, and whether aid is more effective when simply given as unrestricted cash compared to approaches such as conditional transfers which try to restrict how recipients use any money received. Traditionally this debate has centered around food aid and education funding, but more recently this discussion has also arisen with respect to funding small businesses.

Adequacy of Reporting in Economics

Berk Ozler's picture
Should the identity of the author affect the interpretation of the existing evidence? You might answer ‘no,’ but it does. And when it does, it may affect the decision of influential people and institutions, such as a multilateral donor organization or, in the following case, a high level panel discussing the post-MDGs development agenda.

Is the “conditional” in CCTs just a monitoring technology? Evidence from Brazil

David McKenzie's picture

The typical arguments made for the conditioning argument of CCTs are usually based on paternalism (people might have incorrect beliefs about the value of education, or parents may have incomplete altruism for their kids), externalities (the social returns to education exceed the private returns so individuals underinvest),   or political economy (it is easier to sell transfers to the voters if you make them conditional). A

CCTs usually increase schooling but few studies have found gains in test scores – what’s behind this disconnect?

Jed Friedman's picture

The majority of CCT programs with schooling conditions have been found to increase enrollment rates and attendance. Far fewer of the evaluations, however, report results on learning outcomes. Those that do typically find no gains in learning, at least as assessed by test scores. The 2009 CCT review report by Fiszbein, Schady, and others summarizes four studies that measure CCT impacts on learning outcomes. The first two use school-based testing data and find no impact on test scores.