Chris Blattman cites World Bank economist Berk Ozler:
"the global poverty gap — meaning how much it would take to get everyone above the poverty line — was just $66 billion. That is roughly what Americans spend on lottery tickets every year, and it is about half of what the world spends on foreign aid.”
Well, I don’t know about you, but that paragraph makes me think that if we just were able to divert 50% of the current foreign aid budget towards cash transfers, we would eliminate extreme poverty. But, is that really true? The answer is: “not even close.”
His [Berk's] reasons are here. The short answer is “it is very hard to know who the poor are, find them, and know how much to give them”.
Annie Lowrey's piece in the NY Times that generated the debate is here. Vox also looks at the GiveDirectly experiment in Kenya.