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Status: Ongoing Work

This study will build evidence on the association between program scale and costs by analyzing how costs of a large-scale Self-Help Group (SHG) program in India changed over a ten-year period. The study focuses on program costs of Jeevika – the Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society – since its inception in 2007-08 when it mobilized 8,000 women into SHGs to its current operations where it has mobilized over 9 million women into 0.8 million SHGs. Jeevika’s SHG program originally started in six priority districts of Bihar in 2006-07, before the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) was formally launched by the Government of India. In 2011, with additional funding from the World Bank as well as the launch of NRLM, Jeevika scaled up its operations beyond the originally planned six districts. Further, as SHGs matured over time, Jeevika moved from an initial focus on financial inclusion to including multiple forms of farm- and non-farm livelihoods components. Using program expenditure data, this study will estimate costs of different program components, including capacity building, institutional development, community investment, and project management. The estimated costs will be used to empirically test for evidence around the theory of economies of scale. Considering recent evidence on how development programs, including those that focus on microfinance, financial literacy and women’s empowerment, often show reduced impacts when scaled up, this study will shed light on the potential implications for policymaking when impact estimates are considered in isolation from program costs.

The study is led by Dr. Garima Siwach and Dr. Thomas de Hoop of the American Institutes for Research, and Dr. Sohini Paul of the Population Council.

Women's group meeting

©LVO/Prashant Panjiar