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The Effect of Cash Transfers and Market Acess on Households in Rural Liberia and Malawi
Last registered on November 13, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
The Effect of Cash Transfers and Market Acess on Households in Rural Liberia and Malawi
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004869
Initial registration date
November 12, 2019
Last updated
November 13, 2019 11:12 AM EST
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of California, Santa Cruz
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of California, Santa Cruz
PI Affiliation
University of California, Santa Cruz
PI Affiliation
University of California, Santa Cruz
PI Affiliation
University of California, Santa Cruz
PI Affiliation
Tufts University
PI Affiliation
Indian School of Business
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2018-11-26
End date
2021-08-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
We are evaluating the impact of two cross-cut interventions: (1) a cash transfer program implemented by the NGO GiveDirectly, and (2) a market access intervention which reduces travel costs for farmers to access agricultural inputs like fertilizer and improved seeds. The study will take place in 600 villages in Liberia and Malawi (300 in each country). In each country, 100 villages will receive cash transfers only, 100 will serve as control, 50 will receive both cash transfers and market access, and 50 will receive market access only. Surveys will be conducted with 10 households per village.

We plan to conduct two separate analyses from this experiment.

First, we plan to evaluate the direct effect of cash transfers (controlling for market access). To do this, we will conduct a baseline and endline survey, which will include a host of outcomes. In addition, we will conduct high frequency phone surveys to measure dynamic impacts of transfers, with a particular focus on food consumption and related outcomes.

Second, we plan to evaluate the effect of market access and cash (and their interaction). This analysis will focus primarily on agricultural outcomes.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Aggarwal, Shilpa et al. 2019. "The Effect of Cash Transfers and Market Acess on Households in Rural Liberia and Malawi." AEA RCT Registry. November 13. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4869-1.0.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
There are two interventions. First, the NGO GiveDirectly is providing cash transfers to households. The value of this transfer is experimentally selected (at the village level) to be $250, $500, or $750 per household. These sums are paid out in monthly $250 increments, so that villages receive 1, 2, or 3 payments. There are several additional sub-randomizations. In Liberia, respondents are randomly chosen to be paid out quarterly, while others are paid over consecutive months. In Malawi, monogamously married households were randomly selected for either the male or female head of households to receive the transfer. Transfers are made via mobile money; since pre-existing mobile money usage is low, beneficiaries are given the option to buy cell phones (with the cost deducted from later transfers) and are given help in signing up for mobile money.

Second, a market access intervention is cross-randomized. Respondents are given a voucher to defray transportation costs to access inputs. In Liberia, agricultural input dealers set up stalls at local market centers where inputs were made available. In Malawi, a major agricultural input dealer set up events at prominent locations (such as primary schools). Inputs were not subsidized.
Intervention Start Date
2019-01-02
Intervention End Date
2020-12-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Food Security, Expenditures, Agriculture, Income, Labor Supply, Assets, Health Behavior, Child Anthropometrics, Household Resilience, Interpersonal Transfers, Intimate Partner Violence
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The full list of outcomes will be examined to estimate the impact of cash transfers. For the market access evaluation, attention will be on agricultural outcomes, particularly the adoption of inputs such as fertilizer and improved seeds. We plan to write two separate pre-analysis plans for the two analyses.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Prices of food items
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
We are collecting data on the prices of food items in approximately 100 markets in Liberia and 95 markets in Malawi. In Liberia, approximately half of these are in areas that received cash transfers, and the other half are in areas that did not. In Malawi, about one quarter are in areas that received the transfer. We plan to conduct a difference-in-difference analysis to evaluate the effect of cash transfers on prices.
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The experiment includes 600 total villages (300 in each country). The experiment will be cross-cut so that in each country 100 villages receive cash transfers, 100 serve as control, 50 receive market access only, and 50 receive both market access and cash. We plan to enroll a sample of 10 households per village, so that our target sample is 6,000 total households.

There are several sub-treatments within the cash transfer treatment arm. First, the value of the transfers was randomly selected to be $250, $500, or $750 per household. These sums are paid out in monthly $250 increments, so that villages receive 1, 2, or 3 payments. In addition, in Liberia, respondents are randomized into being paid this amount quarterly (i.e. spread out every 3 months for a year), or in 3 consecutive months. Finally, in Malawi, GiveDirectly randomized whether the male or female head of the household received the cash transfer (conditional on both spouses being home at the time of enrollment).

The randomization is stratified by administrative units known as “clan” in Liberia and “group village” in Malawi. Treatment intensity is randomly varied across group villages in Malawi and across geographic clusters in Liberia.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization by a computer, in Stata.
Randomization Unit
Village
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
600 villages (300 in Liberia and 300 in Malawi)
Sample size: planned number of observations
6,000 households (3,000 in Liberia and 3,000 in Malawi).
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
(1) 200 villages receive cash transfers only (100 in each country)
(2) 200 villages receive nothing (pure control - 100 in each country)
(3) 100 villages receive market access only (50 in each country)
(4) 100 villages receive cash and market access (50 in each country)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Malawi National Commission for Science and Technology
IRB Approval Date
2019-02-14
IRB Approval Number
P.12/18/342
IRB Name
University of Liberia
IRB Approval Date
2018-10-11
IRB Approval Number
18-10-131
IRB Name
University of California, Santa Cruz
IRB Approval Date
2018-11-02
IRB Approval Number
3221 / 3291