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Appraising Workfare

  • Ravallion, Martin

Workfare programs aim to reduce poverty by providing low-wage work to those who need it. They are often turned to in a crisis. This article offers some simple analytical tools that can be used to rapidly appraise the cost-effectiveness of an existing workfare operation as a basis for deciding whether the program should be expanded. For pedagogic purposes, two stylized versions of a range of programs found in practice are analyzed: one for a middle-income country, the other for a low-income country. The cost of a given gain to the poor is about the same for both programs, although the components of that cost are very different, with implications for the timing of benefits. The author points to program design changes that could enhance the impact on poverty. Copyright 1999 by Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal World Bank Research Observer.

Volume (Year): 14 (1999)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 31-48

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Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:14:y:1999:i:1:p:31-48
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  1. 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.
  2. Besley, T., 1988. "Workfare Vs. Welfare: Incentive Arguments For Work Requirements In Poverty Alleviation Programs," Papers 142, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  3. Lipton, Michael & Ravallion, Martin, 1993. "Poverty and policy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1130, The World Bank.
  4. Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1994. "Transfer Benefits from Public-Works Employment: Evidence for Rural India," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(427), pages 1346-69, November.
  5. Radhakrishna, R. & Subbarao, K., 1997. "India's Public Distribution System. A National and International Perspective," World Bank - Discussion Papers 380, World Bank.
  6. Martin Ravallion & Gaurav Datt, 1995. "Is Targeting Through a Work Requirement Efficient? Some Evidence for Rural India," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-41, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  7. K. Subbarao, 1997. "Public Works as an Anti-Poverty Program: An Overview of Cross-Country Experience," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(2), pages 678-683.
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