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

  • Adriana Camacho


  • Emily Conover


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.

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Paper provided by UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE in its series DOCUMENTOS CEDE with number 006211.

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Length: 56
Date of creation: 19 Aug 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:col:000089:006211
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  1. Miguel Urquiola & Eric Verhoogen, 2009. "Class-Size Caps, Sorting, and the Regression-Discontinuity Design," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 179-215, March.
  2. Khemani, Stuti, 2004. "Political cycles in a developing economy: effect of elections in the Indian States," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 125-154, February.
  3. Emmanuel Saez, 1999. "Do Taxpayers Bunch at Kink Points?," NBER Working Papers 7366, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Adriana Camacho & Emily Conover, 2008. "Effects of Subsidized Health Insurance on Newborn Health in Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 005007, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
  5. Richard Blundell & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2004. "Has 'In-Work' Benefit Reform Helped the Labor Market?," NBER Chapters, in: Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980-2000, pages 411-460 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Andres Rosas & Juan Mendoza, 2004. "The economic effects of geography Colombia as a case study," DOCUMENTOS DE ECONOMÍA 003584, UNIVERSIDAD JAVERIANA - BOGOTÁ.
  8. Allan Drazen & Marcela Eslava, 2005. "Electoral Manipulation via Expenditure Composition: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 11085, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Benjamin A. Olken, 2007. "Monitoring Corruption: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 200-249.
  10. Attanasio, Orazio & Fitzsimons, Emla & Gomez, Ana & Lopez, Diana & Meghir, Costas & Mesnard, Alice, 2006. "Child Education and Work Choices in the Presence of a Conditional Cash Transfer Programme in Rural Colombia," CEPR Discussion Papers 5792, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Leora Friedberg, 1999. "The Labor Supply Effects of the Social Security Earnings Test," NBER Working Papers 7200, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Sam Schulhofer-Wohl & Miguel Garrido, 2009. "Do Newspapers Matter? Evidence from the Closure of The Cincinnati Post," Working Papers 1140, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Discussion Papers in Economics..
  13. repec:oup:qjecon:v:121:y:2006:i:4:p:1211-1248 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. repec:oup:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:4:p:1415-1451 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
  16. Lee, David S., 2008. "Randomized experiments from non-random selection in U.S. House elections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 675-697, February.
  17. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
  18. Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Point Shaving: Corruption in NCAA Basketball," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 279-283, May.
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