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Optimal Income Support Targeting

  • De Watchter, S.
  • Galiani, S.

This paper considers the practical problem of distributing a fixed budget for poverty alleviation to a population whose poverty status is not directly observable. Some information on the relationship between poverty status and a number of observable and verifiable characteristics is assumed to be available in the form of a household survey. The solution we propose differs from other academic work in that it explicitly accounts for administrative constraints on the shape of the transfer function and is computationally more straightforward. It improves on the techniques that are commonly used in practice by taking both the concavity of the social welfare function and the entire conditional distribution of poverty status into account, and by endogenously determining the optimal transfer levels. Although the superiority of our allocation rule over other techniques is tautological, we explore the magnitude of the improvement in an artificial dataset. Finally, we provide an intuitive discussion of the defects of currently operational methods.

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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 9941.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:9941
Contact details of provider: Postal: Manor Rd. Building, Oxford, OX1 3UQ
Web page: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/
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  1. Andrew Chesher & Christian Schluter, 2001. "Welfare measurement and measurement error," CeMMAP working papers CWP03/01, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  2. Hettich, Walter & Winer, Stanley L, 1988. "Economic and Political Foundations of Tax Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 701-12, September.
  3. Chaudhuri, Shubham & Ravallion, Martin, 1994. "How well do static indicators identify the chronically poor?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 367-394, March.
  4. Kanbur, R. & Keen, M., 1988. "Poverty, Incentives And Linear Income Taxation," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 298, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  5. Glewwe, Paul, 1992. "Targeting assistance to the poor : Efficient allocation of transfers when household income is not observed," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 297-321, April.
  6. Kanbur, Ravi & Keen, Michael & Tuomala, Matti, 1994. "Labor Supply and Targeting in Poverty Alleviation Programs," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 8(2), pages 191-211, May.
  7. Ravallion, Martin & Sen, Binayak, 1994. "Impacts on rural poverty of land-based targeting: Further results for Bangladesh," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 22(6), pages 823-838, June.
  8. Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1990. "Regional disparities, targeting, and poverty in India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 375, The World Bank.
  9. Ravallion, Martin & Chao, Kalvin, 1989. "Targeted policies for poverty alleviation under imperfect information: Algorithms and applications," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 213-224.
  10. Nichols, Albert L & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1982. "Targeting Transfers through Restrictions on Recipients," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(2), pages 372-77, May.
  11. Besley, Timothy J & Kanbur, S M Ravi, 1988. "Food Subsidies and Poverty Alleviation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(392), pages 701-19, September.
  12. Elbers, Chris & Lanjouw, Jean O. & Lanjouw, Peter, 2002. "Micro-level estimation of welfare," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2911, The World Bank.
  13. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
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