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Political Connections and Social Networks in Targeted Transfer Programmes: Evidence from Rural Ethiopia

  • Stefan Dercon
  • Bet Caeyers

In many developing countries, the beneficiaries of transfer programmes are determined by community-based processes, based on some general targeting rules related to needs.� This opens the door for local social and political processes to impact on who gets access.� Despite increasingly large scale social protection programmes in Africa, we have limited evidence on the political economy processes involved.� We focus on Ethiopia where the local political authorities are in charge of food aid transfers.� We investigate whether social networks and political connections matter for access.� We find evidence for the hypothesis that the process results in the targeting of households that cannot easily rely on support from relatives or friends.� On average, for each additional person the household can rely on in times of need, the probability of this household of obtaining food aid decreases with almost 1 percentage point.� We also find strong evidence of political connections and favouritism.� Households having close associates holding official positions have, ceteris paribus, more than 10 percent higher probability of obtaining free food than households that are not well connected with powerful households.� We do not find evidence for the hypothesis that other social networks in the community influence the food aid allocation process.� Finally, investigating reverse causality, we find no evidence that social and political networks are affected by the food aid transfer system.

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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number WPS/2008-33.

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Date of creation: 01 Oct 2008
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:wps/2008-33
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