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Targeting Outcomes Redux


  • David Coady


A newly constructed comprehensive database of 122 targeted antipoverty interventions in 48 countries is used to examine the contested issue of the efficacy of targeting interventions in developing countries. Though the median program transfers 25 percent more to poor individuals (those in the bottom two quintiles) than would universal allocation, a quarter of the interventions are regressive. Targeting is better in richer countries, in countries where governments are more likely to be held accountable, and in countries where inequality is higher. Interventions that use means testing, geographic targeting, and self-selection based on a work requirement are all associated with an increased share of benefits going to poor people. Proxy-means testing, community-based selection, and demographic targeting to children show good results on average but with wide variation. Self-selection based on consumption, demographic targeting to the elderly, and community bidding show limited potential for good targeting. The substantial variation in targeting performance within specific program types and specific targeting methods suggests that differences in implementation are also important factors in determining the success of targeting to poor individuals. Copyright 2004, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • David Coady, 2004. "Targeting Outcomes Redux," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 19(1), pages 61-85.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:19:y:2004:i:1:p:61-85

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