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Published on Nov 5, 2013
In eight villages, for eighteen months, every man, woman and child has received an unconditional monthly cash transfer. Over 5,500 villagers have been recipients. We have been evaluating the effects by comparison with people living in comparable villages, in a so-called randomised control trial.
Such pilots take a long time. Politics does not wait. Suffice it to note that the results of this and the third pilot in tribal villages are heart-warming. Even though the amount paid is very modest, about 30% of bare subsistence, we have observed improvements in nutrition, school attendance and performance, women's status, economic activity and sanitation. Many villagers have told us they want a substitution of cash for subsidies. More have come round to that as experience has been gained.
What seems to happen is that the cash provides liquidity and a sense of security that infuses confidence and gives people a greater sense of control over life. So the positive effects exceed the value of the transfer.