Examining Behavioral “Nudges”



Heba’s previous project examined the impact of a poverty alleviation program, a Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) that attempted to incentivize poor mothers, through a direct cash transfer, to send their children to school. The mothers did send their children to school as a result of this program. However, she finds that only observing this outcome of school access obscures the causal pathway, which is that mothers, through the cash transferred by the program, could afford the costs of public education in Egypt, which are high due to corruption at the level of teachers and administrators. In other words, it was the cash offered by the program, and not the requirement to send children to school—or the “nudge”—that mattered for the outcome. Through this case she reflects on the use of behavioral incentives in poverty policy, and of randomized control trials. This article is published in Sociological Forum.

 Her work on this project won the Eastern Sociological Society’s Candace Rogers Award for “most outstanding paper by a graduate student” and has been published in Sociological Forum in an article entitled “The Unnecessary Nudge: Education and Poverty Policy in a Cairo Slum.” For a synopsis of the article’s argument, see this post.

Prior to beginning graduate school, Heba was a researcher at the American University in Cairo’s Social Research Center on a Conditional Cash Transfer project. While there she also consulted for German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GIZ) and CARE International on issues pertaining to gender and development in the Middle East.