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Finding the Best Indicators to Identify the Poor

  • Adama Bah

    (CERDI - Centre d'études et de recherches sur le developpement international - CNRS : UMR6587 - Université d'Auvergne - Clermont-Ferrand I)

Proxy-means testing (PMT) is a method used to assess household or individual welfare level based on a set of observable indicators. The accuracy, and therefore usefulness of PMT relies on the selection of indicators that produce accurate predictions of household welfare. In this paper I propose a method to identify indicators that are robustly and strongly correlated with household welfare, measured by per capita consumption. From an initial set of 340 candidate variables drawn from the Indonesian Family Life Survey, I identify the variables that contribute most significantly to model predictive performance and that are therefore desirable to be included in a PMT formula. These variables span the categories of household private asset holdings, access to basic domestic energy, education level, sanitation and housing. A comparison of the predictive performance of PMT formulas including 10, 20 and 30 of the best predictors of welfare shows that leads to recommending formulas with 20 predictors. Such parsimonious models have similar predictive performance as the PMT formulas currently used in Indonesia, although these latter are based on models of 32 variables on average.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series Working Papers with number halshs-00936201.

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Date of creation: 24 Jan 2014
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Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:halshs-00936201
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  1. Leamer, Edward E, 1983. "Let's Take the Con Out of Econometrics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 31-43, March.
  2. Edward E. Leamer, 2010. "Tantalus on the Road to Asymptopia," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 31-46, Spring.
  3. Pradhan, Menno, et al, 2001. "Eating Like Which "Joneses?" An Iterative Solution to the Choice of a Poverty Line "Reference Group."," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 47(4), pages 473-87, December.
  4. Sudarno Sumarto & Daniel Suryadarma & Asep Suryahadi, 2006. "Predicting Consumption Poverty Using Non-consumption Indicators : Experiments Using Indonesian Data," Development Economics Working Papers 22542, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
  5. Ahmed, Akhter U. & Bouis, Howarth E., 2002. "Weighing what's practical: proxy means tests for targeting food subsidies in Egypt," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(5-6), pages 519-540.
  6. Levine, Ross & Renelt, David, 1992. "A Sensitivity Analysis of Cross-Country Growth Regressions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 942-63, September.
  7. Leamer, Edward E, 1985. "Sensitivity Analyses Would Help," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 308-13, June.
  8. David Coady & Margaret Grosh & John Hoddinott, 2004. "Targeting of Transfers in Developing Countries : Review of Lessons and Experience," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14902, August.
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