Peter Coy | Do Handouts Work? – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

“Josephy Amosi Kamanga, who lives in Malawi, couldn’t afford to pay the examination fee for his eldest child, so she dropped out of school two years ago. She later got pregnant and is living at home. The fee that changed his daughter’s life? Just $4.98.

That story comes from GiveDirectly Inc., an American charity that offers a simple proposition: Give poor people cash, with no strings attached, and good things will tend to happen. It certainly did to Kamanga and his family. GiveDirectly gave him $51.75 a month for a year. That enabled him to reopen a shop that sells soap, drinks, body lotion, sugar, eggs and cooking oil, and to buy a secondhand phone to operate the business. With the profits from the grocery he covered school expenses for three other children. He told a GiveDirectly interviewer that the news he’d been selected to receive the money “brought joy in my heart.” “