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Targeting Social Transfers to the Poor in Mexico

  • David Coady
  • Susan Parker

Mexico’s main social support program, Oportunidades, combines two methods to target cash to poor households: an initial self-selection by households who acquire knowledge about the program and apply for benefits, followed by an administrative determination of eligibility based on a means test. Self-selection improves targeting by excluding high-income households, while administrative targeting does so mainly by excluding middle-income households. The two methods are complementary: expanding program knowledge across households substantially increases applications from non-poor households, thus reinforcing the importance of administrative targeting. The paper shows that targeting can be further improved through redesigning the means test and differentiating transfers according to demographic characteristics.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 09/60.

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Length: 33
Date of creation: 01 Mar 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:09/60
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  1. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
  2. Angus Deaton & Christina Paxson, 1998. "Economies of Scale, Household Size, and the Demand for Food," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 897-930, October.
  3. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey A. Smith, 2003. "The Determinants of Participation in a Social Program: Evidence from a Prototypical Job Training Program," NBER Working Papers 9818, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Lanjouw, Peter & Ravallion, Martin & DEC, 1994. "Poverty and household size," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1332, The World Bank.
  6. David Coady, 2006. "The Welfare Returns to Finer Targeting: The Case of The Progresa Program in Mexico," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 217-239, May.
  7. Pudney, Stephen & Monica Hernandez & Ruth Hancock, 2003. "The Welfare Cost of Means-Testing: Pensioner Participation in Income Support," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 171, Royal Economic Society.
  8. Cesar Martinelli & Susan W. Parker, 2006. "Deception and Misreporting in a Social Program," Working Papers 0602, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
  9. Blundell, Richard & Fry, Vanessa & Walker, Ian, 1987. "Modelling the Take-up of Means-tested Benefits: the Case of Housing Benefits in the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(390), pages 58-74, Supplemen.
  10. Micklewright, John & Coudouel, Aline & Marnie, Sheila, 2004. "Targeting and Self-Targeting in a New Social Assistance Scheme," IZA Discussion Papers 1112, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Duclos, Jean-Yves, 1995. "Modelling the take-up of state support," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 391-415, November.
  12. Coady, David P. & Grosh, Margaret & Hoddinott, John, 2002. "Targeting outcomes redux," FCND discussion papers 144, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  13. David Coady, 2004. "Targeting Outcomes Redux," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 19(1), pages 61-85.
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