Three essays on the evaluation of a poverty graduation program
This thesis comprises three papers that examine a multifaceted approach to poverty alleviation implemented in northern Kenya. The approach combines multiple interventions with the aim of promoting entrepreneurship among ultrapoor women, and emphasizes cash transfers, in addition to business skills training, business mentoring and savings. The first paper takes advantage of the randomized allocation of beneficiaries of the program to one of three funding cycles to estimate its impact on the
... re of beneficiaries. In the short-to-medium run participation in the program is found to have a positive and significant effect on income, savings, asset accumulation and food security. The second paper looks at the impact of the program on female empowerment, and compares survey measures of empowerment to a measure derived from an incentivized decision making experiment. A positive impact of participation in the program on empowerment is found when using an experimental indicator, but not when using traditional survey measures. The experimental indicator also better correlates with indicators of well-being that are associated with more empowered women and is seen as a better measure of empowerment than survey measures, in this context. The final paper takes advantage of the exogenous assignment of ultra-poor women to business groups to examine the effect of team heterogeneity on an experimental measure of trust. Heterogeneity in many characteristics is not found to affect the level of trust and trustworthiness between business partners. However, differences in asset wealth, measured by livestock ownership, is associated with less trust.