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Benefit Incidence with Incentive Effects, Measurement Errors and Latent Heterogeneity: A Case Study for China

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  • Martin Ravallion
  • Shaohua Chen

Abstract

In what is probably the largest cash transfer program in the world today China’s Dibao program aims to fill all poverty gaps. In theory, the program creates a poverty trap, with 100% benefit withdrawal rate (BWR). But is that what we see in practice? The paper proposes an econometric method of estimating the mean BWR allowing for incentive effects, measurement errors and correlated latent heterogeneity. Under the method’s identifying assumptions, a feasible instrumental variables estimator corrects for incentive effects and measurement errors, and provides a bound for the true value when there is correlated incidence heterogeneity. The results suggest that past methods of assessing benefit incidence using either nominal official rates or raw tabulations from survey data are deceptive. The actual BWR appears to be much lower than the formal rate, and is also lower than the rate implied by optimal income tax models for poverty reduction. The paper discusses likely reasons based on qualitative observations from field work. The program’s local implementation appears to matter far more than incentives implied by its formal rules.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Ravallion & Shaohua Chen, 2015. "Benefit Incidence with Incentive Effects, Measurement Errors and Latent Heterogeneity: A Case Study for China," NBER Working Papers 21111, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21111
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    Cited by:

    1. Ben Westmore, 2017. "Sharing the Benefits of China’s Growth by Providing Opportunities to All," Journal of International Commerce, Economics and Policy (JICEP), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 8(03), pages 1-33, October.
    2. Golan, Jennifer & Sicular, Terry & Umapathi, Nithin, 2017. "Unconditional Cash Transfers in China: Who Benefits from the Rural Minimum Living Standard Guarantee (Dibao) Program?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 316-336.
    3. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • 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
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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