Empowering the poor: A field study of the social psychological consequences of receiving autonomy or dependency aid in Panama.
ABSTRACT: This field study investigated the consequences of receiving poverty aid through conditional transfer programmes in the form of autonomy-oriented help (i.e., cash) or dependency-oriented help (i.e., vouchers) in impoverished rural communities in Panama. The empowering effects of autonomy- (vs. dependency-) help have so far only been studied in laboratory settings, or in settings where help could easily be refused. Little is known about the reactions of people who rely on help for extended periods of time. This study provides insights into how aid recipients are influenced by the type of aid they receive. Results showed that, as expected, recipients of cash reported more autonomy, empowerment, and life improvements than recipients of vouchers. Training, another type of autonomy-oriented help, was positively related to empowerment, personal, and family change beliefs. These findings illustrate the benefits of autonomy-oriented help programmes in empowering people from extremely poor communities around the world, who rely on aid for extended periods of time.
Project description:How can governments and nonprofits design aid programs that afford dignity and facilitate beneficial outcomes for recipients? We conceptualize dignity as a state that manifests when the stigma associated with receiving aid is countered and recipients are empowered, both in culturally resonant ways. Yet materials from the largest cash transfer programs in Africa predominantly characterize recipients as needy and vulnerable. Three studies examined the causal effects of alternative aid narratives on cash transfer recipients and donors. In study 1, residents of low-income settlements in Nairobi, Kenya (<i>N =</i> 565) received cash-based aid accompanied by a randomly assigned narrative: the default deficit-focused "Poverty Alleviation" narrative, an "Individual Empowerment" narrative, or a "Community Empowerment" narrative. They then chose whether to spend time building business skills or watching leisure videos. Both empowerment narratives improved self-efficacy and anticipated social mobility, but only the "Community Empowerment" narrative significantly motivated recipients' choice to build skills and reduced stigma. Given the diverse settings in which aid is delivered, how can organizations quickly identify effective narratives in a context? We asked recipients to predict which narrative would best motivate skill-building in their community. In study 2, this "local forecasting" methodology outperformed participant evaluations and experimental pilots in accurately ranking treatments. Finally, study 3 confirmed that the narrative most effective for recipients did not undermine donors' willingness to contribute to the program. Together these studies show that responding to recipients' psychological and sociocultural realities in the design of aid can afford recipients dignity and help realize aid's potential.
Project description:To address ongoing food insecurity and acute malnutrition in Somalia, a broad range of assistance modalities are used, including in-kind food, food vouchers, and cash transfers. Evidence of the impact of cash and voucher assistance (CVA) on prevention of acute malnutrition is limited in humanitarian and development settings. This study examined the impact of CVA on prevention of child acute malnutrition in 2017/2018 in the context of the Somalia food crisis. Changes in diet and acute malnutrition were measured over a 4-month period among children age 6-59 months from households receiving household transfers of approximately US$450 delivered either as food vouchers or a mix of in-kind food, vouchers, and cash. Baseline to endline change in children's dietary diversity, meal frequency, minimum acceptable diet (MAD), mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC), and acute malnutrition (MUAC < 12.5 cm) were compared using difference-in-difference analysis with inverse probability weighting. There were no statistically significant changes in dietary diversity, meal frequency, or the proportion of children with MAD for either intervention group. Adjusted change in mean MUAC showed increases of 0.5 cm (confidence interval [CI; 0.0, 0.7 cm]) in the food voucher group and 0.1 cm (CI [-0.1, 0.4]) in the mixed transfer group. In adjusted analysis, prevalence of acute malnutrition among children under 5 years increased by 0.7% (CI [-13.4, 14.4%]) among food voucher recipients and decreased by 4.8% (CI [-9.9, 8.1%]) in mixed transfer recipients. The change over time in both mean MUAC and acute malnutrition prevalence was similar for both interventions, suggesting that cash and vouchers had similar effects on child nutrition status.
Project description:This study compares the impact of several common development programs (agricultural extension, subsidized agricultural inputs and poultry transfers) to cash transfers equal to the cost of each program. Prior to program delivery, recipients were asked their valuation for each program (i.e., their cash indifference point between cash and the program) as a proxy for their preference between cash and the program. Subsequently, recipients were randomly assigned to receive cash or a program. Six months after delivery of cash and programs, we do not find that individuals who receive the intervention they value most are different from others in terms of consumption, food security, assets, psychological well-being or feelings of autonomy, and can rule out effects of any meaningful size. When comparing cash transfers directly to common development programs, the point estimates indicate no difference in impacts and confidence intervals rule out large differences. We do find that cash transfers increase feelings of autonomy and respect compared to non-cash interventions.
Project description:Background: 21 million girls get pregnant every year. Many initiatives are empowering girls. Various studies have looked at girl empowerment, however, there is contradicting evidence, and even less literature from developing countries. Methods: We searched articles published between January 2000 to January 2019. We followed Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines and registered our protocol on the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews PROSPERO (CRD42019117414). Nine articles were selected for review. Quality appraisal was done using separate tools for qualitative studies, cohort and cross-sectional studies and randomized control trials. Results: Eight studies included educational empowerment, four studies included community empowerment, three studies included economic empowerment, while two studies discussed policy empowerment. Three studies were of fair quality; two qualitative and one cross-sectional study were of high quality, while three studies had low quality. Discussion. Studies showed a favorable impact of girl empowerment on adolescent pregnancies and risky sexual behaviors. Education empowerment came through formal education or health systems such as in family planning clinics. Community empowerment was seen as crucial in girls' development, from interactions with parents to cultural practices. Economic empowerment was direct like cash transfer programs or indirect through benefits of economic growth. Policies such as contraceptive availability or compulsory school helped reduce pregnancies.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Large-scale emergency assistance programmes in Somalia use a variety of transfer modalities including in-kind food provision, food vouchers, and cash transfers. Evidence is needed to better understand whether and how such modalities differ in reducing the risk of acute malnutrition in vulnerable groups, such as the 800,000 pregnant and lactating women affected by the 2017/18 food crisis. METHODS:Changes in diet and acute malnutrition status were assessed among pregnant and lactating women receiving similarly sized household transfers over a four-month period (total value of ~US$450 per household) delivered either as food vouchers or as mixed transfers consisting of in-kind food, vouchers, and cash. Baseline and endline comparisons were conducted for 514 women in Wajid, Somalia. Primary study outcomes were Minimum Dietary Diversity for Women, meal frequency, and mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC), with MUAC<21.0 cm classified as acute malnutrition. Adjusted analyses consisted of difference-in-difference analysis using linear and logistic regression models with inverse probability weighting based on propensity scores to account for the non-randomized design. FINDINGS:No significant difference in change in dietary quality was observed between food voucher and mixed transfer recipients; a significant difference in change in mean meal frequency was observed (0.3 meals/day, CI: 0.1-0.5, p = 0.001) and the mixed transfer group had significantly greater meal frequency at endline (p<0.001). Mean MUAC increased significantly among both voucher (0.9cm, CI: 0.6-1.3, p = 0.001) and mixed transfer recipients (1.3cm, CI: 1.1-1.5, p = 0.001) over the intervention period in adjusted analysis, however, the difference in magnitude of change between the two groups was not statistically significant (0.4cm, CI: -0.1-0.08, p = 0.086). CONCLUSIONS:Within the context of the 2017/18 Somalia food crisis, the modality of assistance provided to pregnant and lactating women (mixed transfers or food-vouchers) made no difference in preventing acute malnutrition and protecting nutritional status.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Cash transfers and vouchers are forms of 'demand-side financing' that have been widely used to promote maternal and newborn health in low- and middle-income countries during the last 15 years. METHODS:This systematic review consolidates evidence from seven published systematic reviews on the effects of different types of cash transfers and vouchers on the use and quality of maternity care services, and updates the systematic searches to June 2015 using the Joanna Briggs Institute approach for systematic reviewing. The review protocol for this update was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42015020637). RESULTS:Data from 51 studies (15 more than previous reviews) and 22 cash transfer and voucher programmes suggest that approaches tied to service use (either via payment conditionalities or vouchers for selected services) can increase use of antenatal care, use of a skilled attendant at birth and in the case of vouchers, postnatal care too. The strongest evidence of positive effect was for conditional cash transfers and uptake of antenatal care, and for vouchers for maternity care services and birth with a skilled birth attendant. However, effects appear to be shaped by a complex set of social and healthcare system barriers and facilitators. Studies have typically focused on an initial programme period, usually two or three years after initiation, and many lack a counterfactual comparison with supply-side investment. There are few studies to indicate that programmes have led to improvements in quality of maternity care or maternal and newborn health outcomes. CONCLUSION:Future research should use multiple intervention arms to compare cost-effectiveness with similar investment in public services, and should look beyond short- to medium-term service utilisation by examining programme costs, longer-term effects on service utilisation and health outcomes, and the equity of those effects.
Project description:The U.S. is the main country in the world that delivers its food assistance primarily via transoceanic shipments of commodity-based in-kind food. This approach is costlier and less timely than cash-based assistance, which includes cash transfers, food vouchers, and local and regional procurement, where food is bought in or nearby the recipient country. The U.S.'s approach is exacerbated by a requirement that half of its transoceanic food shipments need to be sent on U.S.-flag vessels. We estimate the effect of these U.S. food assistance distribution policies on child mortality in northern Kenya by formulating and optimizing a supply chain model. In our model, monthly orders of transoceanic shipments and cash-based interventions are chosen to minimize child mortality subject to an annual budget constraint and to policy constraints on the allowable proportions of cash-based interventions and non-US-flag shipments. By varying the restrictiveness of these policy constraints, we assess the impact of possible changes in U.S. food aid policies on child mortality. The model includes an existing regression model that uses household survey data and geospatial data to forecast the mean mid-upper-arm circumference Z scores among children in a community, and allows food assistance to increase Z scores, and Z scores to influence mortality rates. We find that cash-based interventions are a much more powerful policy lever than the U.S.-flag vessel requirement: switching to cash-based interventions reduces child mortality from 4.4% to 3.7% (a 16.2% relative reduction) in our model, whereas eliminating the U.S.-flag vessel restriction without increasing the use of cash-based interventions generates a relative reduction in child mortality of only 1.1%. The great majority of the gains achieved by cash-based interventions are due to their reduced cost, not their reduced delivery lead times; i.e., the reduction of shipping expenses allows for more food to be delivered, which reduces child mortality.
Project description:The use of financial incentives to change health-related behaviour is often opposed by members of the public. We investigated whether the acceptability of incentives is influenced by their effectiveness, the form the incentive takes, and the particular behaviour targeted. We conducted discrete choice experiments, in 2010 with two samples (n = 81 and n = 101) from a self-selected online panel, and in 2011 with an offline general population sample (n = 450) of UK participants to assess the acceptability of incentive-based treatments for smoking cessation and weight loss. We focused on the extent to which this varied with the type of incentive (cash, vouchers for luxury items, or vouchers for healthy groceries) and its effectiveness (ranging from 5% to 40% compared to a standard treatment with effectiveness fixed at 10%). The acceptability of financial incentives increased with effectiveness. Even a small increase in effectiveness from 10% to 11% increased the proportion favouring incentives from 46% to 55%. Grocery vouchers were more acceptable than cash or vouchers for luxury items (about a 20% difference), and incentives were more acceptable for weight loss than for smoking cessation (60% vs. 40%). The acceptability of financial incentives to change behaviour is not necessarily negative but rather is contingent on their effectiveness, the type of incentive and the target behaviour.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>There is extensive evidence that regular physical activity confers numerous health benefits. Despite this, high rates of physical inactivity prevail among older adults. This study aimed to ascertain if incentives could be effective in motivating physical activity through improving uptake of walking programs, either with or without an enrolment fee to cover corresponding costs.<h4>Methods</h4>A discrete-choice conjoint survey was fielded to a national sample of older adults in Singapore. Each respondent was given ten pairs of hypothetical walking programs and asked to choose the option they preferred. Each option varied along several dimensions, including the level and type (cash, voucher, or health savings credit) of incentive and an enrolment fee. For each option, they were asked how likely they would be to join their preferred program. A random utility model (RUM) was used to analyze the responses.<h4>Results</h4>Results suggest that a free 6-month program with a $500 cash incentive would generate enrolment rates of 58.5%; charging $50 to enroll lowers this to 55.7%. In terms of incentive type, cash payments were the most preferred incentive but not significantly different from supermarket vouchers. Both were preferred to health savings credits and sporting goods vouchers. Concerns of adverse selection were minimal because those who were inactive represented at least 72% of new participants for any offered program(s) and were the majority.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Study results demonstrate the potential for even modest incentives to increase program uptake among inactive older adults. Moreover, although cash was the most preferred option, supermarket vouchers, which could potentially be purchased at a discount, were a close alternative. Results also suggest that an enrolment fee is a viable option to offset the costs of incentives as it has only minimal impact on participation.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>There is a critical need for effective health education methods for adolescent smoking prevention. The coproduction of antismoking videos shows promising results for adolescent health education.<h4>Objective</h4>This study explored the feasibility of a smoking prevention program using the coproduction of antismoking videos in order to empower adolescents in smoking prevention and tobacco control. A smoking prevention program based on coproduction of antismoking videos over eight sessions was implemented in a low-income neighborhood.<h4>Methods</h4>A mixed methods design with a concurrent embedded approach was used. In total, 23 adolescents participated in the program. During the prevention program, small groups of participants used video cameras and laptops to produce video clips containing antismoking messages. Quantitative data were analyzed using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test to examine changes in participants' psychological empowerment levels between pre- and postintervention; qualitative interview data were analyzed using content analysis.<h4>Results</h4>Pre- and postcomparison data revealed that participants' psychological empowerment levels were significantly enhanced for all three domains-intrapersonal, interactional, and behavioral-of psychological empowerment (P<.05). Interviews confirmed that the coproduction of antismoking videos is feasible in empowering participants, by supporting nonsmoking behaviors and providing them with an opportunity to help build a smoke-free community.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Both quantitative and qualitative data supported the feasibility of the coproduction of antismoking videos in empowering adolescents in smoking prevention. Coproduction of antismoking videos with adolescents was a beneficial health education method.