Do You Trust Poor People?

It would be politically incorrect to say “no”. And yet, my guess is that most of us think “yes”. That is why government programs to help the poor give them access to things, rather than just money.

An experiment in Kenya is testing this mindset and Vox has the story. For a period of 12 years, everyone in a remote village will receive a cash allotment that is enough to cover their basic needs.

And what will we find out after 12 years?

… the GiveDirectly experiment will tell us a great deal. It provides an opportunity to see just how much extremely poor villages can be transformed by a very simple, and extremely scalable, intervention. If, in 12 years, Jacklin’s village looks basically the same as it does today, that tells us something about the limits of cash as a sustainable way to escape poverty. But if it looks different, if there’s dramatically more economic activity and education, if health outcomes look better and more people have jobs — that tells us something too.

Can’t wait!


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