SILC Innovations Research Brief 4: An Analysis of Agent Earnings in Fee-for-Service Savings Groups
To assess the model and inform future SILC rollouts on this fee-for-service, savingsgroup delivery channel, CRS carried out a broad research study using a Randomized Control Trial (RCT) design. The research was set up to make a fundamental comparison between two delivery channels: the fee-for-service PSP model and the more conventional project-paid FA model. To rigorously compare the two, an experimental design established statistically comparable groups of agents across two cohorts (separated by about a year) serving members in comparable environments over approximately a one-year interval.
A key issue in the study was PSP earnings. What kind of living can the PSP make from charging their groups? What are patterns of group payments? How do PSP incomes compare to the stipends earned by FAs, which were based on what CRS’ local partners were paying for similar work in other sectors? In this component of the research, the fundamental comparison was not randomized PSPs against randomized FAs, since FAs did not provide a range of earnings to which we could compare the PSPs (although we do make some comparisons to the fixed FA project-paid stipends). As such, we drew on the full universe of the project’s first two cohorts of PSPs, tracked in the project’s Management Information System (i.e., 352 agents as of September 2011), inclusive of, but not limited to, the original randomization of PSP agents over the research interval. MIS data for all PSPs, including earnings, was collected on a quarterly basis.