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Benefit incidence with incentive effects, measurement errors and latent heterogeneity: A case study for China

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  • Ravallion, Martin
  • Chen, Shaohua

Abstract

In what is probably the largest cash transfer program in the world today China's Dibao program aims to fill all poverty gaps. In theory, the program creates a poverty trap, with 100% benefit withdrawal rate (BWR). But is that what we see in practice? The paper proposes an econometric method of estimating the mean BWR allowing for incentive effects, measurement errors and correlated latent heterogeneity. Under the method's identifying assumptions, a feasible instrumental variables estimator corrects for incentive effects and measurement errors, and provides a bound for the true value when there is correlated incidence heterogeneity. The results suggest that past methods of assessing benefit incidence using either nominal official rates or raw tabulations from survey data are deceptive. The actual BWR appears to be much lower than the formal rate and is likely to be too low in the light of the literature on optimal income taxation. The paper discusses likely reasons based on qualitative observations from field work. The program's local implementation appears to matter far more than incentives implied by its formal rules.

Suggested Citation

  • Ravallion, Martin & Chen, Shaohua, 2015. "Benefit incidence with incentive effects, measurement errors and latent heterogeneity: A case study for China," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 124-132.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:128:y:2015:i:c:p:124-132
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2015.04.004
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    Cited by:

    1. Ben Westmore, 2017. "Sharing the Benefits of China’s Growth by Providing Opportunities to All," Journal of International Commerce, Economics and Policy (JICEP), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 8(03), pages 1-33, October.
    2. Golan, Jennifer & Sicular, Terry & Umapathi, Nithin, 2017. "Unconditional Cash Transfers in China: Who Benefits from the Rural Minimum Living Standard Guarantee (Dibao) Program?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 316-336.
    3. Stephan Klasen & Simon Lange, 2016. "How Narrowly Should Anti-poverty Programs Be Targeted? Simulation Evidence from Bolivia and Indonesia," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 213, Courant Research Centre PEG.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Poverty; Transfers; Marginal tax; Fiscal incidence; Optimal taxation; China;

    JEL classification:

    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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