MIT’s Field Research in India for the Ultra-poor
An experiment done by MIT antipoverty researchers based on a “Targeting the Ultra-Poor” (TUP) program that aids people living in extreme poverty have generated positive effects on consumption, food security, income, and health, which grew fairly steadily for seven years after the start of the program, and then remained intact after 10 years as well. The study was based on rural West Bengal, India which was centred on people so poor their average daily household consumption was the equivalent of $1.35 in 2018 U.S. dollars. The program seen to be positive by looking at the result. By the end of the experiment, people helped by the TUP program had seen their incomes increase by about 30 percent compared to those not in the program. These findings suggest that many people are stuck in a “poverty trap,” unable to improve their circumstances because of their lack of resources in the first place. But “big push” programs, like the TUP policy used in the experiment, can change the situations.
TUP programs were pioneered by BRAC, a large nongovernmental organization located in Bangladesh. The version of it developed for the MIT experiment started in 2007, covering 120 village settlements in West Bengal. An important aspect of the study is the highlights about how the very poor were able to increase their earnings. At first, households earn more from their increased livestock holdings, although that relative difference shrinks over time. But families in this study were then able to diversify their sources of self-generated income and gain more wage earnings.