Evaluations of outcomes for children and youth from NGO-supported microeconomic interventions: a research synthesis
Economic strengthening (ES) approaches are increasingly applied in resource-poor environments, including in humanitarian crisis settings, in order to achieve a wide variety of socio-economic goals. At the same time, randomized control trial (RCT) methodology has become more prevalent in evaluations of ES and other microeconomic interventions. This review is a systematic research synthesis of randomized impact evaluations of NGO-implemented interventions in low-income countries that work to build income and/or economic assets either of the caregiver, the household, or the individual child, adolescent, or youth, where the evaluation looked at any child-level or youth-level outcomes. The papers evaluate interventions that work to build household or individual income and/or assets, such as conditional and unconditional cash and asset transfers, savings, and training. We find a wide variety of direct and indirect interventions that can potentially affect children. Most of the statistically significant findings from these studies are good for children across a range of outcome measures; however among the studies included here, there is no discernible pattern of any particular intervention category (skills training, savings, etc.) being more effective than any other at achieving better outcomes for children. In many outcome categories, researchers could find no short-term impact on children from ES programming at all. Unintended negative effects for children were found in over 20 per cent of the studies in our document set. By focusing on RCT evaluations of non-governmental programmes, we provide information about the highest quality evaluations of interventions that may be feasible to implement for programmers interested in this topic.