Evaluation of the Welfare Impacts of a Livestock Transfer in Nepal

Midline Results

This document describes the pre-analysis plan for analysis of midline data from a randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluating Heifer International’s (HI) Program in Nepal. Between September 2014 and September 2015, HI administered productive asset transfers to poor households living in three distinct agro-ecological zones of Nepal. The present RCT assigned three treatments at the village level: Treatment one delivered a full package of ben- efits to program participants, including physical capital (goats), human capital formation, and social capital formation. Treatment two withheld the physical capital from beneficiaries; treatment three withheld social capital formation. Within treatment groups we further sub- divided the sample so as to capture indirect effects, both programmed and unprogrammed. The present document outlines the outcome variables and econometric methods we will use to assess the effect of the program on assets, income, non-food consumption, finance, time use, physical health, mental health, food security, aspirations, and women’s empowerment. 

Published, AEA Papers and Proceedings

Working paper (full version)*

Pre-analysis Plan

Online Appendices, Midline

*These results are preliminary. Please do note cite without the written consent of the authors.

Aspirations Formation & Failure in Rural Nepal

Aspirations, or a lack thereof, have recently gained the attention of economists as a behavioral constraint to future-oriented behavior and investment. In this paper we empirically test the theories of aspirations failure and formation articulated in Appadurai (2004), Ray (2006), and Genicot and Ray (2015) using a unique dataset from rural Nepal. We ask two questions: (1) How do aspirations influence future-oriented behavior? and (2) Are aspirations socially driven, and if so, how? Our analysis demonstrates that aspirations drive future-oriented economic behavior as predicted by theory: investment in the future increases with aspirations up to a certain point, but if the gap between one’s current status and aspirations becomes too large, investment subsequently declines. We also find evidence that one’s aspirations are influenced by those in their social network of higher, but not lower, status. Together these findings provide empirical evidence that socially-driven aspirations may be an important driver of persistent poverty. 

Published, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.


Heterogeneity of Outcomes from a Productive Asset Transfer:

A Goat Program in Haiti

Livestock transfer programs have become an essential component of many NGOs’ strategies for reducing poverty among smallholders and subsistence farmers in less developed countries. Despite their prevalence, the literature surrounding the effectiveness of this class of productive asset intervention is only starting to emerge. In this paper, we examine an NGO-sponsored goat transfer-and-training program in rural Haiti. Before realizing the ultimate program goals of improved health, greater levels of education, better housing and more productive farms, beneficiaries must build sustainable herds of healthy goats. Our intent in this paper is to identify household characteristics correlated with success in the program. Therefore, we measure a set of outcomes related to herd health and growth and explain their variation across beneficiaries by regressing them on a set of household variables. We use the results of the regressions to evaluate hypotheses informed by current literature in asset-based poverty. Specifically, we find compelling evidence that wealthiest beneficiaries build smaller, less valuable herds when compared to the poorer beneficiaries. We find equally compelling evidence that geography  affects herd growth. In addition, we find that access to land significantly reduces kid mortality, a key to sustainable, profitable goat herding. Finally, we find some evidence that female beneficiaries experience lower kid mortality. 

Published, Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy.