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Manipulation of Social Program Eligibility: Detection, Explanations and Consequences for Empirical Research

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  • Adriana Camacho

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  • Emily Conover

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Abstract

We document manipulation of a targeting system which used a poverty index score to determine eligibility for social welfare programs in Colombia, including health insurance. We show strategic behavior in the timing of the household interviews around local elections, and direct manipulation when some households had their eligibility scores lowered. Initially the number of interviews increased around local elections. After the algorithm was made public to local officials, the score density exhibited a sharp discontinuity exactly at the eligibility threshold. The discontinuity at the threshold is larger where mayoral elections are more competitive; and smaller in municipalities with less competitive elections, more community organizations and higher newspaper circulation.

Suggested Citation

  • Adriana Camacho & Emily Conover, 2009. "Manipulation of Social Program Eligibility: Detection, Explanations and Consequences for Empirical Research," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 006211, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000089:006211
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    File URL: http://economia.uniandes.edu.co/publicaciones/dcede2009-19.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Julien Labonne, 2012. "The local electoral impacts of conditional cash transfers Evidence from a field experiment," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2012-09, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    2. Armando Barrientos & Juan Miguel Villa, 2014. "Economic and political inclusion of human development conditional transfer programmes in Latin America?," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series 20014, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
    3. Litschig, Stephan, 2012. "Are rules-based government programs shielded from special-interest politics? Evidence from revenue-sharing transfers in Brazil," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 1047-1060.
    4. Benjamin A. Olken & Rohini Pande, 2012. "Corruption in Developing Countries," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 479-509, July.
    5. Marco Manacorda & Edward Miguel & Andrea Vigorito, 2011. "Government Transfers and Political Support," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 1-28, July.
    6. Julien Labonne, 2012. "The local electoral impacts of conditional cash transfers: Evidence from a field experiment," CSAE Working Paper Series 2012-09, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Manipulation; Targeting; Local elections; Colombia;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • 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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