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Yesterday, Lant Pritchett expressed his bewilderment at my open letter to Bill Gates advocating cash for the poor rather than chickens. I think Lant’s right and he’s wrong. We have to focus on the big picture and economic growth as a society, but I think there’s a strong argument for directly tackling the worst poverty now.
Cash transfers might be the next big thing in international development. Yet our analysis of new survey data suggests that public support for cash transfers is modest and fragile. Donors—who are poised to leverage a promising new way of delivering aid to do more good for less money—must continue to make the public case for cash transfers, and continue to present the remarkably strong evidence that they are not misspent.
There’s a growing consensus that humanitarian cash transfers can help to bridge the widening gap between needs and resources, empowering people affected by disaster and using local markets to deliver the goods and services we previously thought only aid agencies could provide.
My column for Foreign Policy this week has a theme that will ring familiar to anyone who has been around global poverty advocacy for the last few years. It puts a price tag on ending poverty. My price is $100 billion, based on just handing over enough money to everyone worldwide living on less than $1.25 a day to bring them up to that level. The World Bank’s Shanta Devarajan was kind enough to comment on the article: