Can a Protestant Christianity education program teaching about health, livelihoods, religious values impact poverty?
New working paper published from groundbreaking randomized control trial (RCT) to measure impact of faith and religion in the Philippines. This trial was an initiative between Innovations for Poverty Action and International Care Ministries lead by researchers, Dean Karlan (Northwestern University), James Choi (Yale University) and Gharad Bryan (London School of Economics and Political Science). The study study of International Care Ministries; program, an evangelical faith-based organization in the Philippines, is the first randomized trial of whether religious values education–can affect individuals’ wellbeing (includes health and economic outcomes) within the context of a broader poverty alleviation program.
The key question: Higher religiosity is associated with improved health and well being. Does increased religiosity also cause these outcomes to improve?
Abstract from working paper
To test the causal impact of religiosity, researchers conducted a randomized evaluation of an evangelical Protestant Christian values and theology education program that consisted of 15 weekly half-hour sessions. Researchers analyzed outcomes for 6,276 ultra-poor Filipino households six months after the program ended. The study finds significant increases in religiosity and income, no significant changes in total labor supply, assets, consumption, food security, or life satisfaction, and a significant decrease in perceived relative economic status. Exploratory analysis suggests the program may have improved hygienic practices and increased household discord, and that the income treatment effect may operate through increasing grit.