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Whom to target: an obvious choice?

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  • Schüring, Esther

    ()
    (UNU-MERIT / MGSOG, Maastricht University)

  • Gassmann, Franziska

    ()
    (UNU-MERIT / MGSOG Maastricht University)

Abstract

There has been an ongoing debate among researchers, policy-makers and development partners in low-income countries on whether and to what degree non-contributory social transfers should be targeted to the poor or paid out universally to every citizen or to all citizens in a particular category. This paper critically discusses the assumptions behind the political economy arguments of targeting and tests whether a universal mechanism is bound to politically excel in a lowincome country context. A number of authors have argued that going universal is a win-win situation, both for the poor, the middle class as well as those who are in power. We would therefore expect broad-based support behind a universal scheme, in particular in countries where poverty is widespread and targeting also proves administratively challenging. On the basis of attitudinal surveys with the urban, rural and student population in Zambia, we actually detect more support for targeting the poor than the political economy models would predict. These findings are corroborated by experimental evidence from rural Zambia. We discuss the assumptions of the political economy models in the light of these findings and contemplate on potentially decisive parameters that the models currently do not incorporate.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT) in its series MERIT Working Papers with number 028.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:unm:unumer:2012028

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Keywords: political economy; targeting; universalism;

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References

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  1. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 1999. "Group Loyalty and the Taste for Redistribution," Working Papers 9902, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  2. De Donder, Philippe & Hindriks, Jean, 1998. " The Political Economy of Targeting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1-2), pages 177-200, April.
  3. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2005. "Preferences for redistribution in the land of opportunities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 897-931, June.
  4. Alexander W. Cappelen & Karl O. Moene & Erik Ø. Sørensen & Bertil Tungodden, 2013. "Needs Versus Entitlements—An International Fairness Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 574-598, 06.
  5. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
  6. David Coady & Margaret Grosh & John Hoddinott, 2004. "Targeting of Transfers in Developing Countries : Review of Lessons and Experience," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14902, October.
  7. Alexander W. Cappelen & Astri D. Hole & Erik Ø. Sørensen & Bertil Tungodden, 2005. "The Pluralism of Fairness Ideals: An Experimental Approach," CESifo Working Paper Series 1611, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Margaret Grosh & Carlo del Ninno & Emil Tesliuc & Azedine Ouerghi, 2008. "For Protection and Promotion : The Design and Implementation of Effective Safety Nets," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6582, October.
  9. Ravallion, Martin, 1999. "Is more targeting consistent with less spending?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2079, The World Bank.
  10. Boarini, Romina & Le Clainche, Christine, 2009. "Social preferences for public intervention: An empirical investigation based on French data," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 115-128, January.
  11. Ilyana Kuziemko & Ryan W. Buell & Taly Reich & Michael I. Norton, 2011. ""Last-place Aversion": Evidence and Redistributive Implications," NBER Working Papers 17234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Gelbach Jonah B. & Pritchett Lant, 2002. "Is More for the Poor Less for the Poor? The Politics of Means-Tested Targeting," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-28, July.
  13. La Ferrara, Eliana & Alesina, Alberto, 2005. "Preferences for Redistribution in the Land of Opportunities," Scholarly Articles 4552533, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  14. Karl Ove Moene & Michael Wallerstein, 2001. "Targeting and political support for welfare spending," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 3-24, 03.
  15. Fong, Christina, 2001. "Social preferences, self-interest, and the demand for redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 225-246, November.
  16. Besley, Timothy, 1990. "Means Testing versus Universal Provision in Poverty Alleviation Programmes," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 57(225), pages 119-29, February.
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