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To target or not to target? The costs, benefits, and impacts of indicator-based targeting

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  • Houssou, Nazaire
  • Zeller, Manfred

Abstract

This paper assesses the cost-effectiveness of indicator-based targeting. Using household survey data from Malawi, we examine whether an indicator-based system is more target and cost-efficient in reaching the poor than universal systems and the currently used mechanisms for targeting agricultural subsidies in the country. Estimation results suggest that targeting Malawi's poor and smallholder farmers with indicator-based systems may be worth the extra effort and may improve program targeting and cost efficiency. Even though under the proposed system administrative costs increase, simulation results indicate that it does not make a targeted program cost-ineffective. More importantly, the proposed system appears to be more target and cost-efficient than the 2000/2001 Targeted Input Program (TIP) and the 2006/2007 Agricultural Input Support Program (AISP), both of which were administered through community-based targeting systems. While TIP and AISP transferred about 50% of total transfer, under the proposed system, about 73% of transfers are delivered to the poor and smallholder farmers. Additionally, the costs of leakage to the non-poor are cut by more than 50% under the proposed system. We conclude from the above findings that the newly proposed system can potentially improve the targeting and cost efficiency of Malawi's development programs. However, such improvements depend on actual implementation of targeted programs, a critical issue that should not be set aside.

Suggested Citation

  • Houssou, Nazaire & Zeller, Manfred, 2011. "To target or not to target? The costs, benefits, and impacts of indicator-based targeting," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 626-636, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:36:y:2011:i:5:p:626-636
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    1. Beghin, John C. & Jensen, Helen H., 2008. "Farm policies and added sugars in US diets," Food Policy, Elsevier, pages 480-488.
    2. Alston, Julian M. & Sumner, Daniel A. & Vosti, Stephen A., 2008. "Farm subsidies and obesity in the United States: National evidence and international comparisons," Food Policy, Elsevier, pages 470-479.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kilic, Talip & Sohnesen, Thomas, 2015. "Same Question but Different Answer Experimental Evidence on Questionnaire Design's Impact on Pverty Measured by Proxies," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 211850, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    2. Smale, Melinda & Birol, Ekin, 2013. "Smallholder demand for maize hybrids and selective seed subsidies in Zambia," HarvestPlus Working Papers 9, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. Edig, Xenia van & Schwarze, Stefan & Zeller, Manfred, 0. "Poverty Assessment by Proxy-Means Tests: Are Indicator-Based Estimations Robust over Time? A Study from Central Sulawesi, Indonesia," Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, vol. 52.
    4. Houssou, Nazaire & Andam, Kwaw S. & Collins, Asante-Addo, 2017. "Can better targeting improve the effectiveness of Ghana's Fertilizer Subsidy Program? Lessons from Ghana and other countries in Africa south of the Sahara," IFPRI discussion papers 1605, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    5. Mehta, Aashish & Jha, Shikha & Quising, Pilipinas, 2013. "Self-targeted food subsidies and voice: Evidence from the Philippines," Food Policy, Elsevier, pages 204-217.
    6. Kilic, Talip & Whitney, Edward & Winters, Paul, 2013. "Decentralized beneficiary targeting in large-scale development programs : insights from the Malawi farm input subsidy program," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6713, The World Bank.
    7. Morawetz, Ulrich & Sinabell, Franz, 2015. "Assessment Of Targeting In The Rural Development Programme: A Case Study Of The Austria Investment Support Measure," 55th Annual Conference, Giessen, Germany, September 23-25, 2015 210576, German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA).
    8. Takeshima, Hiroyuki & Nkonya, Ephraim M. & Deb, Sayon, 2012. "Impact of fertilizer subsidies on the commercial fertilizer sector in Nigeria:: Evidence from previous fertilizer subsidy schemes," NSSP working papers 23, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    9. Nielsen, Thea & Schunemann, Franziska & McNulty, Emily & Zeller, Manfred & Nkonya, Ephraim M. & Kato, Edward & Meyer, Stefan & Anderson, Weston & Zhu, Tingju & Queface, Antonio & Mapemba, Lawrence, 2015. "The food-energy-water security nexus: Definitions, policies, and methods in an application to Malawi and Mozambique:," IFPRI discussion papers 1480, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    10. Jonas Helth Lønborg & Ole Dahl Rasmussen, 2013. "Can Microfinance Reach the Poorest: Evidence from a Community-Managed Microfinance Intervention," Study Papers 55, Rockwool Foundation Research Unit.

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