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Substitution Bias and External Validity: Why an Innovative Anti-poverty Program Showed no Net Impact

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  • Morduch, Jonathan
  • Ravi, Shamika
  • Bauchet, Jonathan

Abstract

The net impact of development interventions can depend on the availability of close substitutes to the intervention. We analyze a randomized trial of an innovative anti-poverty program in South India which provides “ultra-poor” households with inputs to create a new, sustainable livelihood. We find no statistically significant evidence of lasting net impact on consumption, income or asset accumulation. Instead, income from the new livelihood substituted for earnings from wage labor. A very similar intervention made a large difference elsewhere in South Asia, however, where wage labor alternatives were less compelling. The analysis highlights the roles of substitution bias and dropout bias in shaping evaluation results and delimiting external validity.

Suggested Citation

  • Morduch, Jonathan & Ravi, Shamika & Bauchet, Jonathan, 2013. "Substitution Bias and External Validity: Why an Innovative Anti-poverty Program Showed no Net Impact," CEI Working Paper Series 2013-02, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:hit:hitcei:2013-02
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    File URL: https://hermes-ir.lib.hit-u.ac.jp/hermes/ir/re/28279/wp2013-2.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. McHugh, Neil & Biosca, Olga & Donaldson, Cam, 2015. "Microfinance, health and randomised trials," Health Economics Working Paper Series 201501, Glasgow Caledonian University, Yunus Centre.
    2. Esther Gehrke & Michael Grimm, 2018. "Do Cows Have Negative Returns? The Evidence Revisited," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66(4), pages 673-707.
    3. Kazushi Takahashi & Abu Shonchoy & Seiro Ito & Takashi Kurosaki, 2017. "How Does Contract Design Affect the Uptake of Microcredit among the Ultra-poor? Experimental Evidence from the River Islands of Northern Bangladesh," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(4), pages 530-547, April.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • C1 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

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