Zap It to Me: The Short-Term Impacts of a Mobile Cash Transfer Program

Aker and others (2011)

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Rural: Tahoua region.RCT.Use of mobile phones to distribute unconditional cash transfers in targeted villages.Participants in the Zap program incurred significantly fewer costs in the process of obtaining the cash transfer as compared to the placebo group or the manual cash transfer group. Zap program recipients saved approximately 30 minutes of time not spent traveling for each transfer, a total of 2.5 hours over the duration of the program. Zap HHs compared to both the manual transfer group and the placebo group purchased on average .86 more types food and non-food items with the cash transfer. (Finding was statistically significant and shows that the m-transfer encourages a larger variety of purchases.) These spending trends do not carry over into the analysis of health and school fee expenditures made with the transfer. (There are no statistically significant differences between the groups in spending on health or education.) HH diet diversity is .16 points higher in Zap villages as compared with placebo villages. (There was no statistically significant difference between the levels of consumption of staple foods but there were notable and statistically significant differences among consumption of fruit and fats.) No statistically significant differences across groups. No statistically significant differences among program types in ownership of durable assets HHs in the Zap program villages had on average .15 more non-durable assets as compared to the placebo group. (This finding suggests that "zap households were selling non-durable assets less frequently than those in placebo or cash villages.") Zap villages on average grew .36 more types of crops than those in the placebo villages. (Findings are driven by an increased likeliness for Zap village households to engage in female produced cash crops such as vouandzou and okra production.) No differences among groups in levels of spending for school fees or spending in markets outside the village. Recipient households in 96 villages.