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Zap It to Me: The Short-Term Impacts of a Mobile Cash Transfer Program - Working Paper 268

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  • Jenny Aker, Rachid Boumnijel, Amanda McClelland, and Niall Tierney

Abstract

Conditional and unconditional cash transfers often help improve development outcomes, yet their costs to program recipients and implementing agencies are rarely discussed. Mobile money transfer systems in many developing countries now offer more cost-effective implementation of cash transfer programs. This paper reports on the first randomized evaluation of a cash transfer program delivered via the mobile phone. In response to a devastating drought in Niger, the trial provided households in targeted villages monthly cash transfers as part of a social protection program. One-third of targeted villages received a monthly cash transfer via a mobile money transfer system (called zap); one-third received manual cash transfers; and the remaining one-third received manual cash transfers plus a mobile phone. The authors show that the zap-based program strongly reduced the variable distribution costs for the implementing agency, as well as program recipients’ costs of obtaining the cash transfer. The zap approach also resulted in additional benefits: more diverse purchasing, a greater diversity of diet, fewer depleted assets, and a greater diversity of crops grown, especially marginal cash crops grown by women. The authors suggest that the lower costs and greater privacy of the zap mechanism—as well as changes in intra-household decision-making—explain the advantage. Their research suggests that mobile transfers could be a cost-effective means of providing cash transfers for remote rural populations, especially those with limited road and financial infrastructure.

Suggested Citation

  • Jenny Aker, Rachid Boumnijel, Amanda McClelland, and Niall Tierney, 2011. "Zap It to Me: The Short-Term Impacts of a Mobile Cash Transfer Program - Working Paper 268," Working Papers 268, Center for Global Development.
  • Handle: RePEc:cgd:wpaper:268
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    File URL: http://www.cgdev.org/content/publications/detail/1425470/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Paul Resnick & Christopher Avery & Richard Zeckhauser, 1999. "The Market for Evaluations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 564-584, June.
    2. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey Smith & Nancy Clements, 1997. "Making The Most Out Of Programme Evaluations and Social Experiments: Accounting For Heterogeneity in Programme Impacts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 487-535.
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    4. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2007. "The Role of School Improvement in Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 12832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Daron Acemoglu, 2010. "Theory, General Equilibrium, and Political Economy in Development Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 17-32, Summer.
    6. Marie Gaarder & Amanda Glassman & Jessica Todd, 2010. "Conditional cash transfers and health: unpacking the causal chain," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 2(1), pages 6-50.
    7. Laura B. Rawlings, 2005. "Evaluating the Impact of Conditional Cash Transfer Programs," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 20(1), pages 29-55.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stoeffler, Quentin & Mills, Bradford, 2014. "Households’ investments in durable and productive assets in Niger: quasi-experimental evidences from a cash transfer project," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170212, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    2. Karthik Balasubramanian & David F. Drake, 2015. "Service Quality, Inventory and Competition: An Empirical Analysis of Mobile Money Agents in Africa," Harvard Business School Working Papers 15-059, Harvard Business School, revised Oct 2015.
    3. von Grebmer, Klaus & Headey, Derek & Bene, Christophe & Haddad, Lawrence & Olofinbiyi, Tolulope & Wiesmann, Doris & Fritschel, Heidi & Yin, Sandra & Yohannes, Yisehac & Foley, Connell & von Oppeln, Co, 2013. "2013 Global Hunger Index: The challenge of hunger: Building resilience to achieve food and nutrition security," IFPRI books, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), number 978-0-89629-951-1 edited by von Oppeln, Constanze & Labahn, Marius & Towey, Olive & von Grebmer, Klaus.
    4. Alderman, Harold, 2014. "Can transfer programs be made more nutrition sensitive?:," IFPRI discussion papers 1342, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    5. von Grebmer, Klaus & Headey, Derek & Bene, Christophe & Haddad, Lawrence & Olofinbiyi, Tolulope & Wiesmann, Doris & Fritschel, Heidi & Yin, Sandra & Yohannes, Yisehac & Foley, Connell & von Oppeln, Co, 2013. "Indice globale della fame: La sfida della fame 2013: Sviluppare la resilienza delle comunita per la sicurezza alimentare e nutrizionale," IFPRI books, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), number 978-0-89629-954-2 edited by von Oppeln, Constanze & Labahn, Marius & Towey, Olive & von Grebmer, Klaus.
    6. repec:oxf:wpaper:wps/2015-04 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Patrick Lubega & Frances Nakakawa & Gaia Narciso & Carol Newman & Cissy Kityo, 2017. "Inspiring women: Experimental evidence on sharing entrepreneurial skills in Uganda," Trinity Economics Papers tep2017, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    8. Munyegera, Ggombe Kasim & Matsumoto, Tomoya, 2016. "Mobile Money, Remittances, and Household Welfare: Panel Evidence from Rural Uganda," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 127-137.
    9. Hoddinott, John & Sandstrom, Susanna & Upton, Joanna, 2013. "The impact of cash and food transfers: Evidence from a randomized intervention in Niger," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 149919, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    10. International Food Policy Research Institute, 2013. "Global Hunger Index 2013 - The Challenge of Hunger: Building Resilience to Achieve Food and Nutrition Security," Working Papers id:5533, eSocialSciences.
    11. Ma Cecilia Catubig & Renato Villano & Brian Dollery, 2015. "Payment Schemes in Conditional Cash Transfer Programs: The Case of 4Ps in the Davao Region, Philippines," Administrative Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(4), pages 1-20, November.
    12. Attanasio, O.P. & Augsburg, B. & de Haas, R. & Fitzsimons, E. & Harmgart, H., 2013. "Group Lending or Individual Lending? Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment in Rural Mongolia," Discussion Paper 2013-074, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    13. repec:fpr:export:1342 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. repec:fpr:export:1341 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. von Grebmer, Klaus & Headey, Derek & Bene, Christophe & Haddad, Lawrence & Olofinbiyi, Tolulope & Wiesmann, Doris & Fritschel, Heidi & Yin, Sandra & Yohannes, Yisehac & Foley, Connell & von Oppeln, Co, 2013. "2013 Welthunger-Index: Herausforderung Hunger: Widerstandsfahigkeit starken Ernahrung sichern," IFPRI books, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), number 978-0-89629-835-4 edited by von Oppeln, Constanze & Labahn, Marius & Towey, Olive & von Grebmer, Klaus.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Africa; cash transfers; intra-household bargaining; information technology; mobile money;

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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