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Comparing and contrasting poverty reduction performance of social welfare programs across jurisdictions in Canada using Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA): An exploratory study of the era of devolution


  • Habibov, Nazim N.
  • Fan, Lida


In the mid-1990s, the responsibilities to design, implement, and evaluate social welfare programs were transferred from federal to local jurisdictions in many countries of North America and Europe through devolution processes. Devolution has caused the need for a technique to measure and compare the performances of social welfare programs across multiple jurisdictions. This paper utilizes Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) for a comparison of poverty reduction performances of jurisdictional social welfare programs across Canadian provinces. From the theoretical perspective, findings of this paper demonstrates that DEA is a promising method to evaluate, compare, and benchmark poverty reduction performance across multiple jurisdictions using multiple inputs and outputs. This paper demonstrates that DEA generates easy to comprehend composite rankings of provincial performances, identifies appropriate benchmarks for each inefficient province, and estimates sources and amounts of improvement needed to make the provinces efficient. From a practical perspective the empirical results presented in this paper indicate that Newfoundland, Prince Edwards Island, and Alberta achieve better efficiency in poverty reduction than other provinces. Policy makers and social administrators of the ineffective provinces across Canada may find benefit in selecting one of the effective provinces as a benchmark for improving their own performance based on similar size and structure of population, size of the budget for social programs, and traditions with administering particular types of social programs.

Suggested Citation

  • Habibov, Nazim N. & Fan, Lida, 2010. "Comparing and contrasting poverty reduction performance of social welfare programs across jurisdictions in Canada using Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA): An exploratory study of the era of devolution," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 457-467, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:epplan:v:33:y:2010:i:4:p:457-467

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy & Drolet, Simon, 2004. "Welfare benefits and the duration of welfare spells: evidence from a natural experiment in Canada," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1495-1520, July.
    2. Garry F. Barrett & Michael I. Cragg, 1998. "An Untold Story: The Characteristics of Welfare Use in British Columbia," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(1), pages 165-188, February.
    3. Jantti, Markus & Danziger, Sheldon, 2000. "Income poverty in advanced countries," Handbook of Income Distribution,in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 309-378 Elsevier.
    4. Caterina Ruggeri Laderchi & Ruhi Saith & Frances Stewart, 2003. "Does it Matter that we do not Agree on the Definition of Poverty? A Comparison of Four Approaches," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(3), pages 243-274.
    5. Charnes, A. & Cooper, W. W. & Rhodes, E., 1978. "Measuring the efficiency of decision making units," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 2(6), pages 429-444, November.
    6. Christiaensen, Luc & Scott, Christopher & Wodon, Quentin, 2002. "Poverty Measurement and Analysis," MPRA Paper 45362, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Day, Diana L. & Lewin, Arie Y. & Li, Hongyu, 1995. "Strategic leaders or strategic groups: A longitudinal data envelopment analysis of the U.S. brewing industry," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 619-638, February.
    8. Finnie, Ross & Irvine, Ian & Sceviour, Roger, 2004. "Welfare Dynamics in Canada: The Role of Individual Attributes and Economic-policy Variables," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2004231e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    9. Chen, Andrew & Hwang, Yuhchang & Shao, Benjamin, 2005. "Measurement and sources of overall and input inefficiencies: Evidences and implications in hospital services," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 161(2), pages 447-468, March.
    10. R. D. Banker & A. Charnes & W. W. Cooper, 1984. "Some Models for Estimating Technical and Scale Inefficiencies in Data Envelopment Analysis," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(9), pages 1078-1092, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pettas, Nikolaos & Giannikos, Ioannis, 2014. "Evaluating the delivery performance of public spending programs from an efficiency perspective," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 140-150.


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