Can Cash Transfers Drive Economic Recovery in Conflict-driven Crises?: Experimental Evidence from Iraq – Cash Consortium for Iraq

Armed conflict and other situations of violence can lead to changes in both the formal and informal economic systems in any given country or region. These changes often create what scholars call a “war economy.” In the short term, the consequences of conflict include human casualties and the physical destruction of assets and infrastructure. In the longer term, the effects of protracted conflict on economic systems – including the collapse of public services and food production systems, increased migration and displacement, and social and cultural disintegration – can have a significant impact on future development.

Cash transfer programs have been successful in helping millions of people afford better livelihoods. While this is well known, little research has yet been conducted to examine the power of such programs to influence outcomes in times of conflict. The Iraq Cash Transfer Study sought to address this gap in the existing literature by providing additional insight into the most effective method of designing and implementing cash transfer programming in an effort to both improve the wellbeing of vulnerable households as well as promote a more sustainable economic recovery in a conflict-affected environment such as Iraq. Broadly, the goal of this research was threefold: 1) identify the impact of receiving cash on household wellbeing in an environment affected by protracted conflict 2) isolate what impact, if any, the schedule in which cash transfers were delivered had on household outcomes 3) explore the impact that providing financial health encouragement training alongside cash has on household decision-making.

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