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Political Connections and Social Networks in Targeted Transfer Programs: Evidence from Rural Ethiopia

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  • Bet Caeyers
  • Stefan Dercon

Abstract

Despite increasingly large scale social protection programs in Africa, we have limited evidence on the local political economy of their allocation. We investigate community-based processes for food aid allocation and the role of political and social networks, using the case of Ethiopia in the aftermath of a serious drought in 2002. Local political authorities are in charge of food transfers, in terms of free food aid or Food for Work programs. We find that although targeting is clearly imperfect, free food aid is responsive to need as well as targeted to households with less access to support from relatives or friends. We also find a strong correlation with political connections: households with close associates in official positions have more than a 12% higher probability of obtaining free food than households that are not well connected. This effect is large: someone without political connections has the same probability of getting food aid as someone more than twice as rich but with these connections. The correlation with political connections is specifically strong in the immediate aftermath of the drought. Payment for Food for Work is also about a third higher for those with political connections. Although these programs appear to be responsive to need, in the future it is crucial to look more closely at the local political economy of these programs.

Suggested Citation

  • Bet Caeyers & Stefan Dercon, 2012. "Political Connections and Social Networks in Targeted Transfer Programs: Evidence from Rural Ethiopia," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(4), pages 639-675.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:doi:10.1086/665602
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    Cited by:

    1. Newman Carol & Zhang Mengyang, 2015. "Connections and the Allocation of Public Benefits," WIDER Working Paper Series 031, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Abay, Kibrom A. & Kahsay, Goytom A. & Berhane, Guush, 2014. "Social networks and factor markets: Panel data evidence from Ethiopia:," ESSP working papers 68, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. Duru, Maya Joan, 2016. "Too Certain to Invest? Public Safety Nets and Insurance Markets in Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 37-51.
    4. Khan, Qaiser & Faguet, Jean-Paul & Ambel, Alemayehu, 2017. "Blending Top-Down Federalism with Bottom-Up Engagement to Reduce Inequality in Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 326-342.
    5. Simons, Andrew M., 2016. "What is the optimal locus of control for social assistance programs? Evidence from the productive safety net programme in Ethiopia," ESSP working papers 86, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    6. Laura Camfield, 2014. "Growing Up in Ethiopia and Andhra Pradesh: The Impact of Social Protection Schemes on Girls’ Roles and Responsibilities," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 26(1), pages 107-123, January.
    7. Azam Chaudhry & Kate Vyborny, 2013. "Patronage in Rural Punjab: Evidence from a New Household Survey Dataset," Lahore Journal of Economics, Department of Economics, The Lahore School of Economics, vol. 18(Special E), pages 183-209, September.
    8. Yoshito Takasaki, 2011. "How is disaster aid allocated within poor villages?," Tsukuba Economics Working Papers 2011-004, Economics, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba.
    9. Guojun He & Shaoda Wang, 2016. "Do College Graduates Serving as Village Officials Help Rural China?," HKUST IEMS Working Paper Series 2016-39, HKUST Institute for Emerging Market Studies, revised Nov 2016.
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    11. Gelo Dambala & Muchapondwa Edwin & Shimeles Abebe, 2017. "Working Paper 288 - Return to Investment in Agricultural Cooperatives in Ethiopia," Working Paper Series 2406, African Development Bank.
    12. Knippenberg, Erwin & Hoddinott, John F., 2017. "Shocks, social protection, and resilience: Evidence from Ethiopia," ESSP working papers 109, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    13. Véronique Gille, 2016. "Application for social programs: the role of local politics and caste networks in affirmative action in India," Working Papers DT/2016/13, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
    14. Muhammad Haseeb & Kate Vyborny, 2016. "Imposing institutions: Evidence from cash transfer reform in Pakistan," CSAE Working Paper Series 2016-36, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    15. Gelo, Dambala & Muchapondwa, Edwin & Koch, Steven F., 2016. "Decentralization, market integration and efficiency-equity trade-offs: Evidence from Joint Forest Management in Ethiopian villages," Journal of Forest Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 1-23.
    16. Christine Buttorff & Antonio J. Trujillo & Fernando Ruiz & Jeannette L. Amaya, 2015. "Low rural health insurance take-up in a universal coverage system: perceptions of health insurance among the uninsured in La Guajira, Colombia," International Journal of Health Planning and Management, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(2), pages 98-110, April.
    17. repec:eee:wdevel:v:99:y:2017:i:c:p:299-319 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Manabu Nose, 2014. "Micro Responses to Disaster Relief Aid: Design Problems for Aid Efficacy," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62(4), pages 727-767.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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