Cash grants catch on in international development world

The short-term results of the world's largest universal basic income (UBI) scheme are shared in a paper co-authored by Abhijit Banerjee, co-founder and co-director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Tavneet Suri, the lab's agriculture sector co-chair alongside two founders of GiveDirectly, the organisation leading the 12-year UBI programme in Kenya. Two years in, the results suggest that households given a one-time lump sum as well as those provided with monthly payments for the duration of the 12 years, show improved outcomes in the areas of entrepreneurship, wellbeing and standards of living.


Soon after Rory Stewart took charge of the UK’s Department for International Development in 2017, he had to grapple with an unsettling argument that was increasingly popular in the aid world.

Instead of designing complex, expensive interventions to help the world’s poorest people, he was told by advocates of cash grants, it was often more effective simply to give them money.

“I remember saying to myself, ‘Well what happens to all of us?’” the former Conservative politician told me. “If the best thing we can do for people is just to give them cash, why are we all employed? Why have we all got master’s degrees?”

Financial Times