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Evaluate India’s Direct Benefits Transfers

Earlier this year, Nancy Birdsall and I laid out why India’s new cash transfer program is superior to current in-kind subsidy programs on which the government spends $26 billion a year with no discernible impact on poverty. While not a panacea, the new program has a lot going for it – cash transfers have been shown to work for poverty reduction in many settings, the program uses a biometrics-based system to identify beneficiaries and process payments, and the country has experience in implementing similar programs like the JSY – a cash transfer conditional on a facility birth.