Another ongoing US RCT of unconditional cash transfers, in Stockton CA reported 12-month findings last year. Quick take: The report doesn’t provide key info needed to gauge study validity, & what info it does provide suggests major problems (e.g. severe differential attrition).

Program & Study Design:

  • The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) provides participants with a $500 per month guaranteed income for 2 years. SEED is being evaluated in an RCT with a sample of 331 adults residing in low to mid-income neighborhoods in Stockton.  

Comment:

  • The study report does not provide the key information needed to assess the study’s validity. What information it does provide suggests that the rate of sample loss (attrition) appears to be much higher in the control group than the treatment group, which can undermine the equivalence of the two groups and lead to inaccurate study findings.

  • In addition to the above issues concerning study validity, the study selectively reports positive findings, rather than (as would be hoped of an objective scientific evaluation) reporting the findings for all outcomes that the study measured.

  • Hopefully future study reports will address these problems.

  • It was unfortunate to see uncritical press reporting on the study by The Economist, Washington Post, & others.

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