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How Accurate is Food-for-Work Self-Targeting in the Presence of Imperfect Factor Markets? Evidence from Ethiopia

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  • Christopher Barrett
  • Daniel Clay

Abstract

Effective targeting of transfers is a key issue in public policy to combat poverty. Much faith is presently placed in self-targeting mechanisms such as public employment schemes supported by food-for-work transfers. Where targeting errors have been observed, these are usually attributed to mismanagement of key operational details, such as the project's wage rate. Using a unique data set from rural Ethiopia, we demonstrate that targeting errors may also have structural causes in some low-income countries. We hypothesise that imperfect factor markets generate a predictable dispersion across households in reservation wage rates that breaks down the unconditionally positive relation between income and shadow wages on which the theory of self-targeting public employment programmes rests. Our results confirm that the inaccuracy of FFW targeting stems from the fact that, in rural Ethiopia, higher income households are endowed with more labour per unit of land or animal. Due to poor factor markets in land and livestock these labour-abundant households have lower marginal labour productivity on farm, thereby depressing the reservation wage rates they find acceptable for FFW participation.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Development Studies.

Volume (Year): 39 (2003)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
Pages: 152-180

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:39:y:2003:i:5:p:152-180

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  1. Jalan, Jyotsna & Ravallion, Martin, 1999. "Income gains to the poor from workfare - estimates for Argentina's TRABAJAR Program," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2149, The World Bank.
  2. Sahn, David E & Younger, Stephen D & Simler, Kenneth R, 2000. "Dominance Testing of Transfers in Romania," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(3), pages 309-27, September.
  3. Sahn, David E & Alderman, Harold, 1996. "The Effect of Food Subsidies on Labor Supply in Sri Lanka," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 125-45, October.
  4. Ravallion, Martin, 1991. "Reaching the Rural Poor through Public Employment: Arguments, Evidence, and Lessons from South Asia," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 6(2), pages 153-75, July.
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  6. de Janvry, Alain & Fafchamps, Marcel & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 1991. "Peasant Household Behaviour with Missing Markets: Some Paradoxes Explained," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(409), pages 1400-417, November.
  7. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
  8. Jacoby, H.G., 1990. "Shadow Wages And Peasant Family Labor Supply; An Econometric Application To The Peruvian Sierra," Papers 73, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
  9. Barrett, C. B. & Reardon, T. & Webb, P., 2001. "Nonfarm income diversification and household livelihood strategies in rural Africa: concepts, dynamics, and policy implications," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 315-331, August.
  10. Holden, Stein & Shiferaw, Bekele & Pender, John L., 2001. "Market imperfections and land productivity in the Ethiopian Highlands:," EPTD discussion papers 76, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  11. Jayne, Thomas S. & Strauss, John & Yamano, Takashi & Molla, Daniel, 2002. "Targeting of food aid in rural Ethiopia: chronic need or inertia?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 247-288, August.
  12. Christopher B. Barrett & Paul A. Dorosh, 1996. "Farmers' Welfare and Changing Food Prices: Nonparametric Evidence from Rice in Madagascar," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(3), pages 656-669.
  13. Kanbur, Ravi & Keen, Michael & Tuomala, Matti, 1994. "Labor Supply and Targeting in Poverty Alleviation Programs," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 8(2), pages 191-211, May.
  14. Ravallion, Martin, 1990. "On the coverage of public employment schemes for poverty alleviation," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-2), pages 57-79, November.
  15. Teklu, Tesfaye & Asefa, Sisay, 1999. "Who Participates in Labor-Intensive Public Works in Sub-Saharan Africa? Evidence from Rural Botswana and Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 431-438, February.
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