Understanding the effect of unconditional cash transfers on cognition
Does alleviating poverty increase cognitive performance? Short- and long- term evidence from a randomized controlled trial
Over the last decade, a growing body of evidence has revealed potential benefits of unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) on a variety of outcomes, including self-reported happiness and life satisfaction (Haushofer & Shapiro, 2016), economic and financial well-being (Blattman et al., 2013; Baird et al., 2018) and educational attainment (Baird et al., 2016). Although the effects of UCTs do not always out-perform rigorous control conditions (Whillans & West, 2022), these findings prompt the question of whether the alleviation of poverty via UCTs can also influence cognitive processing and performance.
In the current study, Szaszi et al. propose to analyse the results of a previous randomised trial of UCTs by Blattman et al. (2017) to test whether a $200 lump sum administered to a sample of young men in Liberia carries both short- and long-term benefits for a range of executive functions, including attention, response inhibition, and working memory capacity.
The Stage 1 manuscript was evaluated over two rounds of in-depth review. Based on detailed responses to the reviewers' comments, the recommender judged that the manuscript met the Stage 1 criteria and therefore awarded in-principle acceptance (IPA).
URL to the preregistered Stage 1 protocol: https://osf.io/k56yv
Level of bias control achieved: Level 2. At least some data/evidence that will be used to answer the research question has been accessed and partially observed by the authors, but the authors certify that they have not yet observed the key variables within the data that will be used to answer the research question AND they have taken additional steps to maximise bias control and rigour.
List of eligible PCI RR-friendly journals:
Chris Chambers (2022) Understanding the effect of unconditional cash transfers on cognition. Peer Community in Registered Reports, . https://rr.peercommunityin.org/articles/rec?id=52
Evaluation round #2
DOI or URL of the report: https://osf.io/nwsjg/?view_only=1781fb681edc4cdeb61287172cd14ba2
Version of the report: v1
Author's Reply, 31 Jan 2022
Decision by Chris Chambers, 31 Jan 2022
The two reviewers from the previous round have now evaluated the revised manuscript. The comments are broadly positive, and most queries have been answered. There are, however, some remaining issues requiring clarification, mainly concerning the planned outcomes and how they will be reported, but also resolving some straightforward methodological points. Provided you are able to address these issues comprehensively in a final revision and point-by-point response, in-principle acceptance should be forthcoming without requiring further in-depth Stage 1 review.
Reviewed by Matúš Adamkovič, 21 Jan 2022
Reviewed by Charlotte Pennington, 06 Jan 2022
Evaluation round #1
DOI or URL of the report: https://osf.io/ekp3u/?view_only=1781fb681edc4cdeb61287172cd14ba2
Author's Reply, None
Decision by Chris Chambers, 22 Aug 2021
Two reviewers have now assessed the Stage 1 manuscript and I have also read it myself. As you will see, the reviews are very constructive and find substantial merit in the proposal while also raising a number of concerns to address, including the level of methodological detail, the clarity and justification of the rationale and key design components, potential methodological confounds that could obscure the intepretation of the outcomes, uncaptured risk of bias through procedural flexibility or prior data observation, and presentation structure. I agree with these assessments -- I found this to be a promising Stage 1 submission that should be suitable for in-principle acceptance once the issues raised by the reviewers are fully addressed. In revising, please ensure that all OSF materials (components and code) are available to the reviewers.