Just Give Money to the Poor: The Development Revolution from the Global South
* Argues strongly for overlooked approach to development by showing how the poor use money in ways that confound stereotypical notions of aid and handouts
* Team authored by foremost scholars in the development field
Amid all the complicated economic theories about the causes and solutions to poverty, one idea is so basic it seems radical: just give money to the poor. Despite its skeptics, researchers have found again and again that cash transfers given to significant portions of the population transform the lives of recipients. Countries from Mexico to South Africa to Indonesia are giving money directly to the poor and discovering that they use it wisely – to send their children to school, to start a business and to feed their families.
Directly challenging an aid industry that thrives on complexity and mystification, with highly paid consultants designing ever more complicated projects, Just Give Money to the Poor offers the elegant southern alternative – bypass governments and NGOs and let the poor decide how to use their money. Stressing that cash transfers are not charity or a safety net, the authors draw an outline of effective practices that work precisely because they are regular, guaranteed and fair. This book, the first to report on this quiet revolution in an accessible way, is essential reading for policymakers, students of international development and anyone yearning for an alternative to traditional poverty-alleviation methods.
42 billion pesos, about $4bn, which is just 0.3% of GDP. Poor households that are to receive the grants are identified by a point system (called a proxy means test) based on the age, gender, and education of each family member, on whether the house has electricity and tap water, and on whether there are assets such as a radio, television, and bicycles. The grant is quite complex, depending on age and school level. Part of the grant is paid to the mother or to whoever is responsible for the
the world, but innovative social policies have brought about a substantial decrease in poverty and inequality.11 Halfway across the world in Mongolia, one of the poorest countries in Asia, a new child benefit has reduced the percentage of children in poverty from 42% to 27%.12 India’s rural employment guarantee scheme is reported to have “had a significant impact on rural poverty,” leading not only to an important increase in food consumption but also to a 40% increase in the purchase of
week, Ireland child benefit $232 and $284 per month, UK winter fuel $330 per year, UK over-60 income guarantee $205 per week. 8. Claudia Haarmann et al., Making the Difference! The BIG in Namibia, Basic Income Grant Pilot Project Assessment Report, April 2009 (Windhoek, Namibia: Namibian BIG Coalition, 2009), available at www.bignam.org. 9. Marcelo Côrtes Neri, “Poverty, Inequality and Income Policies” (Rio de Janeiro: O Centro de Políticas Sociais [CPS], Fundação Getulio Vargas, 2007), available
represents support for children and the elderly and for those who cannot work.13 In a Chronic Poverty Research Centre study of non-contributory pensions in Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa, Larisa Pelham concluded that successful programs build a bond between citizen and state based on three factors: social solidarity linked to the value and contribution of the elderly in the household, the understanding that pensions are a permanent program that can be relied on, and acknowledgment of the role
corruption with solidarity and social bonds. Donor-initiated and donor-driven programs are less like to win approval than programs that have indigenous roots. These principles need interpreting at the national level, because no “models” can be automatically transferred from country to country. Highquality technical analysis is needed, alongside the recognition that effective programs must be based on local political support. Each government will juggle with goals and competing demands for