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Reaching the Rural Poor through Public Employment: Arguments, Evidence, and Lessons from South Asia

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  • Ravallion, Martin

Abstract

With the limited set of policy instruments typically available in the rural sectors of developing countries, imperfect coverage of the poor and leakage to the nonpoor must be expected from even the most well-intentioned poverty alleviation scheme, One way to reach the poor more effectively is to build incentives for self-selection into the scheme. Labor-intensive rural public works projects have the potential to reach and protect the poor, as well as to create and maintain rural infrastructure. The limited evidence for South Asia suggests that few nonpoor persons want to participate, and that both direct and indirect transfer and stabilization benefits to the poor can be sizable. These benefits can, however, be rapidly dissipated by a badly conceived and executed project; the details of how projects are selected, designed, and financed are crucial to success in both the short and long run. Copyright 1991 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • 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 153-175, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:6:y:1991:i:2:p:153-75
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