From Protection to Production


Quantitative impact evaluation

The goal of quantitative impact evaluation is to attribute an observed impact to the programme intervention. A counterfactual is needed to tell us what would have happened to the beneficiaries if they had not received the intervention. The most direct way of ensuring a good counterfactual is via an experimental design (or randomised control trial), in which households are randomly allocated between a control group and a treatment group. The randomisation guarantees that on average control and treatment households will be identical, except for exposure to the cash transfer programme.



Randomized control trials are often difficult to implement for political, ethical, and budgetary reasons. When they are not available non-experimental design techniques are utilized. Typically these involve propensity score methods, which construct a statistical counterfactual  by matching up treatment households with similar looking control households in some way.

One important consideration is the need to understand how cash transfers affect different types of individuals and households. This entails examining how impacts vary by household size (for fixed transfers), how individual labour allocation decisions vary across gender and age, and how production decisions vary according to a household’s  labour endowment, geographic location and access to key assets such as land.

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The Local Economy-wide Impact Evaluation (LEWIE) Methodology

The local economy-wide impact evaluation (LEWIE) methodology is designed to capture the full impact of cash transfer programs on local economies, including on the production activities of both beneficiary and non-beneficiary groups; how these effects change when programs are scaled up to larger regions; and why these effects happen. All of these are important for designing projects and explaining their likely impacts to governments and other sponsoring agencies.



From a local economy-wide perspective households that receive cash transfers are the means through which new cash enters the rural economy. As they spend their cash the beneficiary households generate general equilibrium effects that transmit program impacts to others in the economy, including non-beneficiaries.

The LEWIE methodology requires the construction of household-village (local) social accounting matrices (SAMs) using household, enterprise, and community survey data collected as part of the baseline and/or follow-up surveys in each of the countries in which evaluations of cash transfer programmes are carried out. Separate SAMs are constructed for the households that will receive the randomized transfer, for control-group households, and when available, for ineligible households in both the beneficiary and control villages.

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Qualitative impact evaluation

The two principal qualitative methods used are focus group discussions (FGDs) and key informant interviews (KIIs). Household case study analysis is also being increasingly undertaken. FGDs are organized and conducted with certain types of informants, separately with men and women, usually stratified by age or other grouping criteria (such as around particular networks). FGDs are accompanied by a wide set of participatory tools and exercises. Social mapping and community well-being analyses, for example, are used to identify the social characteristics, main actors and institutions in the communities, as well as the distribution of well-being among community members.



KIIs are also conducted in communities with a variety of resource persons who can bring specific insights and dimensions of understanding to the research. These often include community leaders, non-governmental organisation workers, religious leaders, health workers, teachers, elders, local traders and farmers.

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