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Ordeal Mechanisms In Targeting: Theory And Evidence From A Field Experiment In Indonesia

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Listed:
  • Vivi Alatas
  • Abhijit Banerjee
  • Rema Hanna
  • Benjamin A. Olken
  • Ririn Purnamasari
  • Matthew Wai-Poi

Abstract

Economic theory suggests that, when designing aid programs, ordeal mechanisms that impose differential costs for rich and poor can induce self-selection and hence improve targeting ("self-targeting"). We first re-examine this theory and show that ordeal mechanisms may actually have theoretically ambiguous effects on targeting: for example, time spent applying imposes a higher monetary cost on the rich, but may impose a higher utility cost on the poor. We then examine these issues empirically by conducting a 400-village field experiment within Indonesia's Conditional Cash Transfer program. Targeting in the program is usually conducted by automatically enrolling candidates who pass an asset test. We compare whether instituting an ordeal mechanism, where villagers come to a central application site to apply and take the asset test, improves targeting over the existing automatic enrollment system. Within self-targeting villages, we find that the poor are more likely to apply, even conditional on whether they would pass the asset test. On net, self-targeting villages have a much poorer group of beneficiaries than status quo villages. However, marginally increasing the ordeal does not necessarily improve targeting: while experimentally increasing the distance to the application site reduces the number of applicants, it screens out both rich and poor in roughly equal proportions. Estimating the model structurally, we show that only one would need to increase the ordeal dramatically (e.g. tripling wait times to 9 hours or more) to induce detectable additional selection. In short, ordeal mechanisms can induce self-selection, but marginally increasing the ordeal can impose additional costs on applicants without necessarily improving targeting.

Suggested Citation

  • Vivi Alatas & Abhijit Banerjee & Rema Hanna & Benjamin A. Olken & Ririn Purnamasari & Matthew Wai-Poi, 2013. "Ordeal Mechanisms In Targeting: Theory And Evidence From A Field Experiment In Indonesia," NBER Working Papers 19127, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19127
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    Cited by:

    1. Abhijit Banerjee & Rema Hanna & Jordan C. Kyle & Benjamin A. Olken & Sudarno Sumarto, 2015. "The Power of Transparency: Information, Identification Cards and Food Subsidy Programs in Indonesia," NBER Working Papers 20923, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Abhijit V. Banerjee, 2016. "Policies for a better-fed world," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 152(1), pages 3-17, February.
    3. Najy Benhassine & Florencia Devoto & Esther Duflo & Pascaline Dupas & Victor Pouliquen, 2015. "Turning a Shove into a Nudge? A "Labeled Cash Transfer" for Education," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 86-125, August.
    4. 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.
    5. World Bank, 2017. "Somali Poverty Profile, June 2017," World Bank Other Operational Studies 28470, The World Bank.
    6. Utz Pape & Nicola Pontara, 2015. "Alternative Social Safety Nets in South Sudan," World Bank Other Operational Studies 22499, The World Bank.
    7. Stephan Klasen & Simon Lange, 2015. "Targeting Performance and Poverty Effects of Proxy Means-Tested Transfers: Trade-offs and Challenges," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 231, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
    8. Nguyen, Cuong & Lo, Duc, 2016. "Testing Proxy Means Tests in the Field: Evidence from Vietnam," MPRA Paper 80002, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Stephan Klasen & Simon Lange, 2015. "Accuracy and Poverty Impacts of Proxy Means-Tested Transfers: An Empirical Assessment for Bolivia," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 164, Courant Research Centre PEG.
    10. Stephan Klasen & Simon Lange, 2016. "How Narrowly Should Anti-poverty Programs Be Targeted? Simulation Evidence from Bolivia and Indonesia," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 213, Courant Research Centre PEG.
    11. repec:eee:wdevel:v:96:y:2017:i:c:p:343-358 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Diego A. Vera-Cossio, 2017. "Targeting credit through community members," Development Research Working Paper Series 07/2017, Institute for Advanced Development Studies.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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