Date of Graduation

Spring 5-8-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International and Development Economics



First Advisor

Dr. Alessandra Cassar


The motivation for this research is to replicate the Oakland based Family Independence Initiative (FII) and to test the components of this model. The FII program claims its success stems from a bottom-up approach structured around setting life-improving goals, mutual support groups, and small monetary incentives to achieve results. As the popularity of this program continues to gain momentum in the United States, we designed a field experiment to measure the impact of incentives on goal achievement and economic conditions as well as the overall impact of the FII model. We enrolled close to 200 small business owners in four experimental treatments (group, no-group, incentives, no-incentives) and a fifth external control group. The experimental data shows that incentives have the strongest overall impact in improving the likelihood of goal achievement and economic performance. Furthermore, the interaction of goal setting, groups, and incentives has positive significant impacts meaning the full FII program is indeed delivering on its promise to improve people’s economic life: more goals are achieved and monthly sales values are significantly higher than in the other treatment groups. In addition to investigating the effectiveness of incentives and goal setting, our research found that the FII model is replicable in a developing country setting, promising a new potentially successful yet inexpensive way to help people lift themselves out of poverty.