The Design of Social Protection for the Poor: Asset for Cash Transfers

Last registered on June 06, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

The Design of Social Protection for the Poor: Asset for Cash Transfers
Initial registration date
June 01, 2023

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
June 06, 2023, 4:15 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

University College London (UCL)

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial is based on or builds upon one or more prior RCTs.
This project studies social protection programs for the poor: we ask whether in-kind transfers are more effective at tackling household poverty than offering households with the equivalent valued transfer as an unconditional cash transfer (UCT)?

We use an RCT to measure the causal impact on households of the offer of either in-kind asset transfer or unconditional cash transfer. We estimate the impacts of each form of transfer on a rich set of economic, social and psychological outcomes at the individual and household. We measure impacts both on the actual beneficiary households, and also measure whether there are positive or negative spillover effects of each form of social protection scheme to other households in the same community.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Khan, Adnan and Imran Rasul. 2023. "The Design of Social Protection for the Poor: Asset for Cash Transfers." AEA RCT Registry. June 06.
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Experimental Details


The anti-poverty interventions we study take two forms. The first offered poor households productive assets in-kind. To determine the menu of assets to offer, in each village we first conducted an assessment of those assets most likely to provide high market returns. The menu of assets offered typically covered livestock, those enabling households to start a small retail business (e.g. grocery shop, fruit stall), crop farming, and other forms of self-employment (e.g. tailoring). In conjunction with these in-kind asset transfers, households were also offered training. Each training course divided into two parts: the first provided general training on establishing and running small-scale enterprises, and the second provided technical training specific to the chosen asset(s). The value of training was fixed at PKR12K. Hence the total value of transfers and training offered was PKR62K (around 620USD). We refer to this as treatment T1.

The second intervention is identical to the first but with one more listed option on the menu: to take an one-off unconditional cash transfer of PKR62K. To mimic the timing of transfers and training in T1, the delivery of cash transfers was staggered as an up-front payment of PKR50K followed by PKR12K a month later. We refer to this as treatment T2.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Labor activities of households. Economic preferences related to redistribution and pro-market beliefs.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Labor activities on the extensive margin will be the primary focus: labor force participation, engagement in casual wage labor, versus forms of self-employment. This will be so for male and female heads of household. Economic preferences will be measured by indices in relation to preferences for redistribution, pro-market beliefs and beliefs over the pro-sociality of others.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Our evaluation follows a two-stage randomization design. In the first, we randomly assign villages to T1, T2 or control. Randomization is stratified by district. At a second stage, within treated villages, we randomly assign the actual offer of treatment among eligible households. Half of those eligible are actually offered treatment. Among the poor in treated villages, we thus distinguish between the treated poor (TP) and the not treated poor (NTP).
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomizztion in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
First stage randomization is at the village level. Second is at the household level (within eligibles in treated villages).
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
We sample all eligible households in treated and control villages, namely all households with a poverty score of 18 or below. This covers 6237 poor households: 3052 reside in control villages, 1598 are in T1 villages (of which 854 are treated), and 1587 are in T2 villages (of which 942 are treated). We use our census to draw a random sample of non poor (hence never eligible) households from across all deciles of poverty scores. We denote non poor households as NP. We survey 9435 non poor households in total, 3130 reside in controls, 3306 in T1 villages, and 2999 in T2 villages.
Sample size: planned number of observations
16,000 households tracked over time (although not all households are surveyed at each survey wave).
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
16,000 households tracked over time in 88 villages (29 are assigned to T1, 29 to T2 and 30 to C). A further 15 C villages are available at baseline but these were then treated as part of another projects intervention later in our study.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Harvard Committee on the Use of Human Subjects in Reesearch
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
Princeton Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
University College London, Research Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials