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The (lack of) Distortionary Effects of Proxy-Means Tests: Results from a Nationwide Experiment in Indonesia

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Listed:
  • Abhijit Banerjee
  • Rema Hanna
  • Benjamin A. Olken
  • Sudarno Sumarto

Abstract

Many developing country governments determine eligibility for anti-poverty programs using censuses of household assets. Does this distort subsequent reporting of, or actual purchases of, those assets? We ran a nationwide experiment in Indonesia where, in randomly selected provinces, the government added questions on flat-screen televisions and cell-phone SIM cards to the targeting census administered to 25 million households. In a separate survey six months later, households in treated provinces report fewer televisions, though the effect dissipates thereafter. We find no change in actual television sales, or actual SIM card ownership, suggesting that consumption distortions are likely to be small.

Suggested Citation

  • Abhijit Banerjee & Rema Hanna & Benjamin A. Olken & Sudarno Sumarto, 2018. "The (lack of) Distortionary Effects of Proxy-Means Tests: Results from a Nationwide Experiment in Indonesia," NBER Working Papers 25362, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25362
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    JEL classification:

    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • 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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