Icon Our WorkThe effectiveness of the graduation approach: what does the evidence tell us?

The Graduation approach is a popular scheme that is regarded by many as a ‘silver bullet’ for moving people out of extreme poverty and into sustainable livelihoods. Among its proponents is the World Bank’s Consultative Group to Assist the Poor.

In this paper, Development Pathways’ Stephen Kidd and Diloá Athias critically assess what the evidence tells us about the effectiveness of the Graduation approach. The paper concludes that claims made about the successes of Graduation programmes are misleading, since they give the impression that impacts are much greater than they actually are. The article finds that a paper authored by the 2019 Nobel Prize winners in Economics, Banerjee and Duflo (along with several other authors), makes claims that do not appear to be substantiated by the evidence. Banerjee and Duflo, alongside Michael Kremer, have been awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics in recognition of their ‘experiment-based approach’ to tackling global poverty, using randomised control trials as the golden standard for uncovering what works for poverty reduction.

This paper was originally published in a special edition of the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth’s Policy in Focus released in 2017, in which the Graduation approach to poverty reduction was explored by a number of contributors.