Improving Outcomes from a Cash-For-Work Program in Madagascar


Madagascar’s Argent Contre Travail Production (ACT-P) program was created to provide people with cash support. While the program intended to help people save and invest, very few of the program participants reported being able to save. We designed and tested a package of behavioral designs consisting of goal-setting, plan-making, a money pouch, and posters and pamphlets to encourage people to set and save towards their financial goals.

The Challenge

Madagascar’s ACT-P “Cash for Work” program was designed to help participants save toward longer-term financial goals. However, participants faced barriers to saving the cash they received through the program, reducing its effectiveness and limiting its impact on poverty reduction.

Our Approach

We worked closely with the World Bank and the government of Madagascar to identify the behavioral barriers that made it challenging for ACT-P participants to save their cash and designed solutions to support them. The behaviorally informed solutions included a plan-making tool and a money partitioning pouch, which participants could use to separate the money they planned to save immediately upon receiving their transfer.


After one month, there was a clear improvement in participants’ ability to save—those who received the behavioral designs were 46% more likely to report saving some money from their transfer. They also reported higher rates of saving their other funds not linked to their cash transfer.


The results demonstrate that behavioral interventions can improve cash transfer program participants’ ability to save and utilize the cash provided for productive investment activities, improving program impact on longer-term economic outcomes beyond consumption.

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