The long term impacts of grants on poverty: 9-year evidence from Uganda’s Youth Opportunities Program (2019)

There is growing enthusiasm for cash grants as a tool to tackle poverty globally, but we have little sense whether the promising short-run impacts persist in the long term. In 2008, Uganda gave $400/person to thousands of young people, to help them start skilled trades. Four years on, an experimental evaluation found grants raised earnings by 38% (Blattman, Fiala, Martinez 2014). We return after 9 years to find these start-up grants raised earnings and consumption temporarily only. Grantees’ investment leveled off; controls eventually increased their incomes through business and casual labor; and so both groups converged in employment, earnings, and consumption. Grants had lasting impacts on assets, skilled work, and possibly child health, but had little effect on mortality, fertility, health or education.