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Cash Transfer Behavior Change Programs Used In Developing Countries Could Work In U.S.

In an opinion piece for The Atlantic, international development worker Antara Ganguli examines how programs used in Malawi and other countries to encourage positive sexual behavior change among teenagers might be used in Mississippi, which has the highest teen pregnancy rate among U.S. states. “The typical American antidote for reducing sexual behavior amongst teenagers — sex education — cannot work in Mississippi because of religious opposition by school boards,” she writes, adding, “Meanwhile, conditional cash transfers reduced sexual behavior in a well-received randomized control trial in Malawi.” She discusses the study findings as well as the positive results of another cash transfer study among poor students in New York City. Ganguli proposes a pilot study of the method for Mississippi students, concluding, “Adapting and trying out tactics from developing countries could achieve specific goals in specific circumstances without getting mired in the politics and bureaucracy of the endless welfare debate” (8/12).