The COVID-19 Cash Transfer Studies
By H. Luke Shaefer, Brian A. Jacob, Natasha V. Pilkauskas, Elizabeth Rhodes, and Katherine Richard
By Natasha V. Pilkauskas, Brian A. Jacob, Elizabeth Rhodes, Katherine Richard, and H. Luke Shaefer
By Brian A. Jacob, Natasha V. Pilkauskas, Elizabeth Rhodes, Katherine Richard, and H. Luke Shaefer
In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States and resulted in businesses, schools, and other non-essential operations being shut down. In response, the federal government passed and administered a series of historically robust cash transfer programs, including a series of Economic Impact Payments (EIPs or stimulus checks), expanded unemployment insurance, and an expanded child tax credit. Studies find these measures helped low- and middle-income families build their savings, and protected many families from rising poverty and hardship.
Many non-governmental charitable organizations also responded to the economic crisis in significant ways. GiveDirectly began providing individuals receiving federal food assistance (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP benefits) with a one-time, unconditional cash transfer of $1,000 during spring 2020. Our research team was invited to study the effects of these transfer payments using a randomized controlled trial experiment in May 2020 (RCT1), and then again in fall 2020 (RCT2). The following publications report on the findings from these studies.