Distributional Impacts of Cash Transfers on the Multidimensional Poverty of Refugees: The ESSN Programme in Turkey

OPHI Working Papers

Most impact evaluations of humanitarian cash transfer programmes use traditional metrics of poverty and study average effects of outcomes separately. We analyse the impact of the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) cash programme on the multidimensional poverty of refugees in Turkey, using a purpose-built Refugee Multidimensional Poverty Index (RMPI). We conduct a causal analysis of both average and distributional impacts of the ESSN on the incidence and intensity of multidimensional poverty, and decompose effects for separate dimensions of poverty. Results show that the ESSN significantly reduced the incidence and intensity of multidimensional poverty amongst its beneficiaries. Significant reductions are found in the dimensions of food security, living standards and education. This supports emerging claims that these types of programmes, still relatively new in humanitarian contexts, can be transformative for their beneficiaries to achieve multiple outcomes simultaneously. Reductions in the deprivation scores of the more deprived households stand out as a finding that outcome-specific evaluations and multidimensional impact evaluations focusing on estimating average treatment effects would have missed, demonstrating the added value of the distributional analyses used. By learning from the largest humanitarian cash programme in the world, results provide important lessons for cash programmes on multidimensional poverty of refugees elsewhere.

Supplementary Information to Working Paper 142.

Citation: Robson, M., Vollmer, F., Doğan, B., and Grede, N. (2022). ‘Distributional impacts of cash transfers on the multidimensional poverty of refugees: The ESSN programme in Turkey’, OPHI Working Paper 142, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford.

A later Version of this paper is published in World Development, 2024, Vol. 179, paper No. 106599, with Supplementary Data code which can be accessed here.

cash transfers, Refugees, multidimensional poverty, impact evaluation, humanitarian intervention, Turkey
Europe and Central Asia

Matthew Robson, Frank Vollmer, Basak Berçin Doğan and Nils Grede
Series Name
OPHI Working Papers
Publication date
JEL Codes
I38, C21, D6
Publication Number
WP 142