Is It Nuts to Give to the Poor Without Strings Attached? – NYTimes.com

Perhaps we have it all wrong.  With widespread failure and dependency becoming a more broadly accepted view among experts maybe the answer is just to make stuff free?

Dozens of countries imitated Mexico’s example and their results inspired the founders of GiveDirectly, a handful of graduate students at Harvard and M.I.T., who were studying the economics of various developing countries. They chose to situate the charity in Kenya because it was a poor country with a well-developed system for sending money to anyone with a cheap cellphone. But they also planned to differentiate their charity; whereas most of the government programs give people money for as long as they qualify, GiveDirectly offers people a one-time grant, spread over the course of several months, and without any requirements.

via Is It Nuts to Give to the Poor Without Strings Attached? – NYTimes.com.

Should we add another category  William Easterly‘s framework for the types of development actors: Planners (top-down, big plans that are imposed by outside actors), Searchers (bottom-up, piecemeal solution-oriented) and now, a new one called Samaritans?  Is free–a la gmail, Dropbox, and other tech solutions–the answer in development?

Hint: The Peabody-winning radio program This American Life explored this issue and found that it worked for some, not for others.

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3 thoughts on “Is It Nuts to Give to the Poor Without Strings Attached? – NYTimes.com

  1. rgettys says:

    I heard of this first on NPR, and like the model this charity follows. They value not spending donated money on administration and fancy pamphlets, but directly spend their money to give people enough to get what they decide to spend it on. They do a lot of experimentation and measure the progress and impact of their spending on many different levels. I did not hear any reports on an initial screening to whom they give money to, but I think the program does not set people up for dependence because they are not given the expectation that the charity will come again. I would like to see other charities do as much research as this one does.

  2. madythorn says:

    I also first heard about this while listening to NPR. Theoretically, just giving money to people sounds nice, but I don’t think it would actually be effective. Not only do I not think it would be effective, I think it would be almost impossible to track the effectiveness of this sort of charity. Because there are no requirements to receiving the money, there is no way to determine that people are using the money for productive or beneficial purposes. I guess that’s the purpose of the charity, but what good does giving money away do if it doesn’t help or improve in some way? Just freely handing out money is not a sure enough way to know that the funds are being used for good purposes. If anything there should be some sort of requirement that makes the people who are given the money take a money management class so that they can learn how to responsibly use a large sum of money that they never before would have had in their possession.

  3. […] Is It Nuts to Give to the Poor Without Strings Attached? – NYTimes.com (globaldiplomacy.wordpress.com) […]

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