In an article in Slate yesterday, co-founders of GiveDirectly announced that they will provide at least 6,000 people in Kenya with a basic income grant (BIG) for a period of 10-15 years, which will cost about $30 million. The proposal is scant in details at the moment, but this article in Vox suggests that dozens of villages will randomly be selected in an already selected region of Kenya for this exercise and everyone within will be given roughly a dollar a day per person for a decade.
Pardon the pun. But, psychological wellbeing has been in the news recently: do cash transfer programs have negative spillover effects on those who live near beneficiaries but do not receive transfers themselves?
A treatment is an instance of treating someone, say, medically. A cure ends a problem. Sometimes, the treatment is a cure. Other times, it just keeps the problem under control without curing it: if you remove the treatment, the problem comes back…
While discussing a cash transfer program, a senior government official in Nicaragua spoke for many when she worried that “husbands were waiting for wives to return in order to take the money and spend it on alcohol” [Moore 2009]. This concern around cash transfer programs comes up again and again. For at least some of the poor, some will say, “Isn’t that how they became poor in the first place?”
Two weeks ago, I blogged about some productive impacts of cash transfer programs. For these effects, as well as the myriad other blog posts and papers on this topic out there, a key point is that the benefits of these transfers extend well beyond the actual individual recipient of the transfer.
I can’t go more than a few minutes through my inbox, or my Twitter, Facebook, and RSS feeds without running into yet another piece about the promise of cash transfers.