One of the most popular solutions to poverty proposed over the last year has been a pretty straightforward one: Just pay people enough so they’re not poor anymore. Advocates for these direct cash transfers, as they’re known, point to empirical evidence that recipients’ quality of life goes up when they get more money. More often than not, people don’t spend it on booze as much as things like home repair or education.
If the world’s billionaires stepped in to provide money, the latest evidence suggests, direct cash transfers could work on a global scale. The cost to end poverty by giving people money directly is only about 60% of the total money spent by OECD member states on foreign aid.