We aim at evaluating the impact of different forms of cash transfers - conditional vs. unconditional - to families below the poverty threshold and with, at least, one child aged 0-6. Conditionality is defined as minimum attendance of a set of courses and training covering topics such as job-seeking, conciliation work and family, use of money, and parenting. The reference population of the experiment is divided into three different groups: a control group (CG), a conditional cash transfer group (CCT: transfer and courses), and an unconditional cash transfer group (UCT: cash transfer). We exploit an established income support program (AOS) provided by the Compagnia di San Paolo-Ufficio Pio in one of the main Italian metropolitan areas, namely the Municipality of Turin. Application to the income support program is voluntary. The cash transfer amounts to euro 2500-3000. Outcomes will be measured 12 months after admission to the program (or rejection for the case of families in the CG).
We investigate set of outcomes potentially affected by the the cash transfer and the topics covered in the courses attended by families in the CCT group. In particular, we focus on the labor market performance of family members, education and training pursued by family members, economic and financial condition of the family, use of money, social inclusion, children's well-being and development outcomes. Each outcome, when applicable, will be measured for each of the household components.
One of the main advantages of our setting is that (i) we are able to compare two different interventions (CCT and UCT) using a very circumscribed population living in the same urban area. This way we can ensure that pre-treatment groups - control and treatment groups - are similar in almost all the characteristics - both observable (and testable) and unobservable (untestable). Moreover, our setting ensures that in the treatment period the three groups groups are potentially hit by the same common shocks.
As anticipated above, we split the entire population of applicants into three different groups. A control group (CG), a first treatment group receiving an unconditional cash transfer (UCT), and a second treatment group receiving a conditional cash transfer (CCT). The three groups have the same initial size: each group is made by around 500 families. The condition for the CCT group to receive the cash transfer is the attendance to a set of courses aimed covering job-seeking, family and work conciliation, use of money, and parenting. Each family is required to attend two courses. The assignment of each family to the two courses - made by 5 meetings lasting 2 hours each - was performed by the Ufficio Pio on the base on an algorithm matching family characteristics with the courses plausibly more related with the specific family needs. The assignment was in any way dependent on family preferences and any reallocation was allowed. In order to get the transfer, each family is required to attend at least 75% of each course.
The families in the CCT will receive the cash transfer in three installments upon attendance of at least two of the four courses previously described. The first installment (euro 500) was provided at the time the family entered the program. The second installment (euro 1,000-1,500) was paid once the family had attended the first course, meaning around three months after admission to the program. The third installment (euro 1,000-1,500) was paid once completed the attendance of the second course, meaning 6 months after admission.
The UCT group will receive the same amount of transfer as the conditional cash transfer group. However, they were not requested to attend any course in order to obtain the transfer. Also for this group the cash transfer was provided through three installments with the exact same timing as the conditional cash transfer group.
The CG, although eligible to receive the treatment, will not receive any cash transfer for the entire period covered by our analysis. We name this group CG.
The final survey administered to all families 12-months after admission to the program will cover topics such as:
-Labor market outcomes: Employment status, time in employment, unemployment status, time in unemployment, wage, weekly hours of work, enrollment in professional courses, training activities, job-seeking activities, etc.
-Income related outcomes: Savings, arrears in utility bills, use of money, financial problems, help by others to deal with expenses, etc
-Social inclusion: use of social media, use of email, use of internet, etc.
-Children outcomes: Use of child care (if applicable), school enrollment (if applicable), behavioral problems, etc.
-Health related outcomes: food consumption, health status, etc.