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Study Overview

Impact evaluation of National Rural Livelihoods Mission
Study is 3ie funded:
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The Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India launched the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) in 2011. The key thrust of NRLM is rural poverty reduction through the creation and strengthening of institutional platforms of the rural poor. NRLM provides a combination of financial resources and technical assistance to states to help them adopt a comprehensive livelihoods-based approach. This approach includes mobilising rural poor into effective self-help groups (SHGs), SHG federations and other organisations. It also enhances their access to financial, technical and marketing services and builds their capacities and skills for gainful and sustainable livelihoods.

3ie has partnered with the World Bank and the Indian Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), to commission an impact evaluation of the National Rural Livelihoods Project (NRLP) which operates under the ambit of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM).  The goal of the evaluation is two-fold. First, to assess the impact of NRLP interventions on the socio-economic outcomes and investigate the causal links using a counterfactual. Second, to use findings from the evaluation to inform the design and expansion of the programme.

The impact  evaluation of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission will  address the following set of questions:

  • The overall impact of the program on SHG members across a variety of household and individual outcomes
  • The effects of the program on SHG quality and, in turn, causal effects of SHG quality on the same set of outcomes  
  • A set of in-depth studies that use the data to explore issues such as: women’s labor force participation; education; women’s empowerment with a focus on women’s social entitlements and their access to social programs; and financial outcomes including savings and loans.
Registration Citation:

Kochar, A. and Barooah, B., 2019. Impact evaluation of National Rural Livelihoods Mission. Registry for International Development for Impact Evaluations (RIDIE). Available at: 10.23846/ridie185

Change History for Registration Citation
Changed On Previous Value

Impact evaluation of National Rural Livelihoods Mission, Anjini Kochar, Bidisha Barooah RIDIE, 3ie, January 23 2020.

Agriculture and Rural Development
Additional Keywords:
Rural Development, Livelihoods, NRLM, SHG, Village Organization
Secondary ID Number(s):

Principal Investigator(s)

Name of First PI:
Anjini Kochar
Stanford University
Name of Second PI:
Bidisha Barooah
International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie)

Research Partner

Name of Partner Institution:
Vrutti Livelihood Impact Partners
Type of Organization:
NGO (local) or other civil society organization

Intervention Overview


The National Rural Livelihoods Mission is a flagship anti-poverty program of the Government of India (GoI). NRLP, for which this evaluation is being implemented, is a component of NRLM that is supported partly the World Bank. The  stated goal of  NRLM is “to reduce poverty by enabling the poor households to access gainful self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities, resulting in appreciable increase in their incomes on a sustainable basis through building strong grassroots institutions of the poor." These institutions enable and empower the poor households to build up their human, social, financial and other resources, solidarity, voice and bargaining power. They in turn enable them to access their rights, entitlements and opportunities. The livelihoods approach of the NRLM / NRLP encompasses the following four inter-related goals:

    1. Mobilizing all rural poor households into effective SHGs and their federations
    2. Enhancing access of the rural poor to credit and other financial, technical and marketing services
    3. Building capacities and skills of the poor for gainful and sustainable livelihoods
    4. Converging various schemes for efficient delivery of social and economic support services for the poor


Theory of Change:

The TOC presents a hypothesis on how  SHG federations  promote income generating activities.SHG federations are of different types varying by organizational structure, promoter and types of services provided. For the sake of generalizability, we take the case of a federated structure whose functions include providing a range of services and are not limited to financial inclusion.Once existing SHGs are federated, federations build their capacity for organizational and financial management. More SHGs are formed and the individuals left out may be mobilized. Federations monitor functioning of SHGs and provide support with management. They provide financial intermediation by providing loans to SHGs and financial literacy services. This may lead to better governance and functioning of SHGs and SHGs are able to save more with and outside the federation. Access to small credit may increase due to inter-loaning. As the number, capacity and savings of SHGs increase, so do federation corpus, earnings and capacity. Federations may then provide access to high value financial, human and material capital by forming linkages with banks and other institutions. They may also take up social issues at the federation level. All of this may enable SHGs to take bigger loans and use resources for starting income generating activities at the SHG or individual level. Federations may themselves take up group livelihoods activities, provide skills trainings and higher level market linkages that are likely to increase the number of income generating activities and revenue from these. The end result is that SHG incomes and capacity improve and these become sustainable. At the same time, they become empowered to take up action on social issues.

Multiple Treatment Arms Evaluated?

Implementing Agency

Name of Organization:
Ministry of Rural Development (MORD), Government of India
Type of Organization:
Public Sector, e.g. Government Agency or Ministry

Program Funder

Name of Organization:
Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India
Type of Organization:
Public Sector, e.g. Government Agency or Ministry

Intervention Timing

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

Evaluation Method Overview

Primary (or First) Evaluation Method:
Difference in difference/fixed effects
Other (not Listed) Method:
Additional Evaluation Method (If Any):
Instrumental variables
Other (not Listed) Method:

Method Details

Details of Evaluation Approach:

The evaluation exploits the phased implementation of NRLM programme  and the consequent variation in the age of SHGs in a cross-section of data as the basis for identifying ITT estimates of the effect of the programme on a range of household outcomes, but also as the basis for an instrumental variable regression that identifies the effect of SHG quality on this same set of outcomes.  The study adopts a  cross-sectional difference-in-difference estimator, following other studies that have similarly used cross-sectional data to implement a difference-in-difference regression. However, in contrast to other studies that have exploited the phased implementation of NRLP across blocks to implement a difference-in-difference regression, this evaluation exploits  the variation in phasing across villages within treatment blocks. The implementation of the programme occurred at the level of the cluster, with guidelines calling for the phased introduction of the programme across villages in the cluster, commencing with villages that were poorest in terms of criteria such as the ranking of the village in terms of the proportion of its households from scheduled castes and tribes, relative to other villages in the cluster. Differences in the duration of exposure to NRLP across early and late implementing villages, approximately 4 years, frequently larger than that across early and late implementing blocks. And, in contrast to the lack of observable criterion underlying the selection of early NRLP blocks, available MIS data suggests that the phasing of the programme across villages within a cluster was based on observable measures of poverty.

Outcomes (Endpoints):

 Outcomes beng measured:

1.Membership of the poor in SHGs

2. Household savings

3. Household debt portfolio from formal and informal sources

4. Household income

5. Effect of the NRLM programme on functioning of various government welfare programmes like MGNREGS, PDS, SBM etc

6.Effect of the NRLM programme on quality of institutions (SHG, Village Organization and Cluster Level Federation) Membership, activities, loan disbursement, maintainance of books of records for the instituions)

7. Diversification of Income/Livelihood Portfolio

8.Household Assets

9. Interest Rates of Household loans

10.Farm and off farm employment  

11.Duration and type of migration

12. Womens' empowerment

13. Women's labour force participation



Unit of Analysis:

We plan to test the following hypotheses :-

1. Average total value of outstanding high cost household debt is lower in households that have been exposed to the programme for a longer duration

2. Average annual rate of interest on household debt is lower in households with relatively longer exposure to the programme

3. Number of loans taken out over the past year is higher in households which have been exposed to the programme over a longer duration

4. Households are engaged in a larger number of income generating activities over the past year as a consequence of the programme

5. Households likelihood of acess to one or more government schemes such as MGNREHA, PDS etc is higher in households that have been exposed to the programme for a longer duration

Unit of Intervention or Assignment:
Number of Clusters in Sample:
Expected number of clusters in the analysis is 168
Number of Individuals in Sample:
Approximately 27,000 households
Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:
The methodology of the study utilizes the phasing of the program, across and within blocks, to identify the effect of SHG age on the NRLM programme.

Supplementary Files

Other Documents:

Outcomes Data

Data from the evaluation is drawn from 1. Village surveys, 2) Household survey which includes a sub component of a questionnaire aimed at the woman in the household . 3) Survey of village level institutions like SHG, Village Organization and their federations such as Cluster Level Federations
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

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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:
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Total Observations in Final Sample:
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Preliminary Report:
Preliminary Report URL:
Summary of Findings:
Paper Summary:
Paper Citation:

Data Availability

Data Availability (Primary Data):
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Other Materials

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Description of Changes:

Study Stopped