Download StudyGeneral

Study Overview

TabangKO Philippines - Unconditional Cash Transfers and Financial Literacy in the Post-disaster Context
Study is 3ie funded:
Study ID:
Initial Registration Date:
Last Update Date:
Study Status:

This program attempts to better understand the role of different cash transfer programs design elements using a unique experiment targeted to households in the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013. The findings would specifically aim to measure impacts on behaviors related to household consumption and disaster recovery as well as those related to financial savings within formal and informal financial agents/institutions. In all cases, households received a cash transfer delivered to mobile bank accounts that could be then accessed at local banking outlets in the region. One group received the standard delivery method of three disbursements over the course of four to five months. This was contrasted to a group that received the disbursement in a lump sum payment at the first disbursement period. An additional group received the standard disbursement model along with an introductory financial literacy overview and presentation. A final group received the standard disbursement, the introductory financial overview, and a series of messages delivered via text and voice messages that encouraged savings behavior.

Registration Citation:

Ives, K.B. and Macaranas, R., 2015. TabangKO Philippines - Unconditional Cash Transfers and Financial Literacy in the Post-disaster Context. Registry for International Development for Impact Evaluations (RIDIE). Available at: 10.23846/ridie044

Environment and Disaster Management
Social Protection
Additional Keywords:
cash transfer, mobile money, disaster relief, post-disaster context, financial literacy, savings reminders, savings encouragement, disaster recovery, resilience
Secondary ID Number(s):
AEARCTR-0000656 (AEA RCT Registry)

Principal Investigator(s)

Name of First PI:
Keith B. Ives
Causal Design
Name of Second PI:
Reimar Macaranas
Causal Design

Study Sponsor

Mercy Corps
Study Sponsor Location:
United States

Research Partner

Name of Partner Institution:
Mercy Corps
Type of Organization:
United States

Intervention Overview


In early 2014, Mercy Corps partnered with BPI Globe BanKO, a branchless mobile bank, to open savings accounts and deliver unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) of PhP 3,950 (approximately 88 USD) to over 25,000 households severely impacted by typhoon Yolanda. The program utilized a completely mobile platform to deposit secure cash transfers to savings accounts provided to all beneficiaries. For the majority of beneficiaries, transfers were scheduled for disbursement in three payments, PhP 2000, 1200, and finally 750 (approximately 45, 27, and 16 USD, respectively), between June and September 2014. For approximately one fourth of beneficiaries within the region of focus (Western Leyte), transfers were distributed in a single lump sum payment of PhP 3,950. In addition to the UCT, a subset of participants who received the three disbursement model also received a brief one to two hour overview of financial literacy principles through a local consulting company. An additional subset of beneficiaries received targeted text and voice messages consisting of savings behavior encouragement along with the financial literacy overview and the three payment disbursement.

Theory of Change:
Multiple Treatment Arms Evaluated?

Implementing Agency

Name of Organization:
Mercy Corps
Type of Organization:
NGO (International)

Program Funder

Name of Organization:
Mercy Corps
Type of Organization:
NGO (International)

Intervention Timing

Intervention or Program Started at time of Registration?
Start Date:
End Date:
Evaluation Method

Evaluation Method Overview

Primary (or First) Evaluation Method:
Randomized control trial
Other (not Listed) Method:
Additional Evaluation Method (If Any):
Other (not Listed) Method:

Method Details

Details of Evaluation Approach:

The goal of the research was to establish how different delivery design and program components could change levels of impact across a spectrum of outcomes. As such, the goal was not to test for the efficacy of cash transfers, but to test for the equivalency of different design options. Hence comparisons would be made between treatment arms as opposed to a pure control group. In total, three surveys were administered to the treatment groups involved in the evaluation. A baseline survey was conducted for each beneficiary immediately after the completion of program registration and before administration of the financial literacy training overview. Analyzing basic difference of means, data from the baseline survey indicated that all treatment groups were balanced across observable characteristics. A midline survey was conducted after the distribution of the third cash transfer and focused on changes in consumption patterns spending. The third and final survey was completed at the end of February 2015.

Outcomes (Endpoints):

The primary outcomes of interest are use of cash, productive asset investment, prevention of asset shedding, and savings behavior. Secondary outcomes include dietary diversity, poverty related coping strategies, and indicators of the Progress out of Poverty Index. In all cases, outcomes will measure all household consumption, investment, or behavior since receiving the cash transfer. Use of cash is defined broadly as general household consumption patterns as well financial investments made to rebuild or upgrade the quality of the home (roofing/walls). Productive asset investment will include inventories of income generating assets as well as the ability to repair any damaged productive assets since receiving the cast transfer. Prevention of asset shedding will measure changes in asset ownership. Savings behavior will reflect use of formal and informal savings institutions to save cash assets.

Unit of Analysis:
Individuals Beneficiaries (Primarily Household Financial Decisionmakers)

H1: Differences in cash transfer disbursement schedules will result in differences in how cash is spent within the home. H2: Differences in cash transfer disbursement schedules will result in differences in the rate of investment in productive assets within the household. H3: Differences in cash transfer disbursement schedules will result in differences in the rate of productive assets shedding within the household. H4: An introductory overview of financial concepts will increase the savings behavior of beneficiary households. H5: Finance related messages and savings encouragement messages will increase the savings behavior of beneficiary households.

Unit of Intervention or Assignment:
Number of Clusters in Sample:
Number of Individuals in Sample:
1,659 individuals (79 observations were dropped due to attrition or lack of account information)
Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:
Treatment A1: 446, Treatment A2: 456, Treatment B: 364, Treatment C: 393 (Total: 1659)

Supplementary Files

Analysis Plan:
TabangKO PreAnalysis Plan.docx
Other Documents:

Outcomes Data

Data was collected using electronic survey tools that utilized ODK software. Causal Design designed the household survey instrument and supervised the training and monitoring of enumerators. The endline survey took approximately 40-50 minutes to administer and addressed a range of questions pertaining to current financial behavior, income, consumption, as well as coping strategies, resilience behaviors and perceptions.
Data Already Collected?
Data Previously Used?
Data Access:
Not restricted - access with no requirements or minimal requirements (e.g. web registration)
Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
Data Approval Process:
Approval Status:

Treatment Assignment Data

Participation or Assignment Information:
Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
Data Previously Used?
Data Access:
Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
Data Approval Process:
Approval Status:

Data Analysis

Data Analysis Status:

Study Materials

Upload Study Materials:

Registration Category

Registration Category:
Prospective, Category 2: Data for measuring impacts have been collected by others but not obtained or analyzed by the research team

Completion Overview

Intervention Completion Date:
Data Collection Completion Date:
Unit of Analysis:
Clusters in Final Sample:
Total Observations in Final Sample:
Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:


Preliminary Report:
Preliminary Report URL:
Summary of Findings:
Paper Summary:
Paper Citation:

Data Availability

Data Availability (Primary Data):
Date of Data Availability:
Data URL or Contact:
Access procedure:

Other Materials

Survey Instrument Links or Contact:
Program Files:
Program Files Links or Contact:
External Link:
External Link Description:
Description of Changes:

Study Stopped