London School of Economics EOPP: Economic Organisation and Public Policy Programme LSE
EOPP: Economic Organisation and Public Policy Programme

Current EOPP Research:
Expanding Opportunity? The Ultra-Poor Program in Bangladesh

Oriana Bandiera, Robin Burgess and Selim Gulesci (with Imran Rasul, UCL)


Working in collaboration with BRAC (, this project is an evaluation of the “Ultra Poor” programme of BRAC in Bangladesh. The ultra poor programme targets the absolute poorest living in rural areas of Bangladesh and through a combination of asset transfers, services and training aims to graduate them into mainstream microfinance.

 We designed a randomized evaluation of the programme, which covers 15 districts of Bangladesh. The baseline survey is carried out in 2007 and will be followed by repeat surveys until 2011. This project will identify the causal effects of the programme, as well as the spillover effects on the rest of the community living in these villages and the role of the social networks, how the networks respond to the changes in the lives of the ultra poor that result from the intervention.

An additional survey was designed for a smaller sample in Naogaon district. This survey is a census of the villages in the treatment and control areas in the district and is designed to map the entire social network of the respondents. This will allow us to analyze in detail the changes in the social networks that result from the programme as well as identify the spillover effects in detail. Furthermore, the survey provides information on the social and psychological empowerment of the respondents, which is one of the intended effects of the programme