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Small but effective: India's targeted unconditional cash transfers

Author

Listed:
  • Puja Dutta
  • Stephen Howes
  • Rinku Murgai

Abstract

India's approach to social security stresses the provision of subsidized food and public works. Targeted, unconditional cash transfers are little used, and have been little evaluated. An evaluation of cash transfers for the elderly and widows based on national household survey data and surveys on social pension utilization in two of India's states, Karnataka and Rajasthan, reveal that these social pension schemes work reasonably well. Levels of leakage (corruption) are low, funds flow disproportionately to poorer rather than richer households, and there is strong evidence that the funds reach vulnerable individuals. A comparison to the public distribution system reveals that the main strength of the social pensions scheme is its relatively low level of leakage. We hypothesize that social pensions suffer less from corruption than India's other safety net programs either because of the low levels of discretion involved in their delivery, or the small size of the transfers involved. Since we cannot choose between these two hypotheses, the scaling-up of the social pension schemes, currently underway, while warranted, should be closely monitored.

Suggested Citation

  • Puja Dutta & Stephen Howes & Rinku Murgai, 2010. "Small but effective: India's targeted unconditional cash transfers," ASARC Working Papers 2010-18, The Australian National University, Australia South Asia Research Centre.
  • Handle: RePEc:pas:asarcc:2010-18
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    File URL: https://crawford.anu.edu.au/acde/asarc/pdf/papers/2010/WP2010_18.pdf
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. D Rajasekhar & Santosh Kesavan & R Manjula, 2017. "Contributory Pension Schemes for the Poor: Issues and Ways Forward," Working Papers id:12097, eSocialSciences.
    2. van de Walle, Dominique, 2011. "Lasting welfare effects of widowhood in a poor country," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5734, The World Bank.
    3. Rajasekhar, D. & Kesavan, Santosh & Manjula, R., 2016. "Contributory pension schemes for the poor: Issues and ways forward," Working Papers 377, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore.
    4. Sudha Narayanan & Nicolas Gerber, 2015. "Social safety nets for food and nutritional security in India," Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai Working Papers 2015-031, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India.
    5. Sarmistha Pal & Robert Palacios, 2011. "Understanding Poverty among the Elderly in India: Implications for Social Pension Policy," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(7), pages 1017-1037.
    6. Barrientos, Armando, 2012. "What is the Role of Social Pensions in Asia?," ADBI Working Papers 351, Asian Development Bank Institute.
    7. repec:eee:wdevel:v:103:y:2018:i:c:p:284-296 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Akerkar, Supriya & Joshi, P.C. & Fordham, Maureen, 2016. "Cultures of Entitlement and Social Protection: Evidence from Flood Prone Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh, India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 46-58.
    9. Armando Barrientos, 2015. "Is There a Role for Social Pensions in Asia?," Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(1), pages 8-20, January.
    10. Ashish Singh, 2010. "The Effect of Family Background on Individual Wages and an Examination of Inequality of Opportunity in India," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 31(3), pages 230-246, September.
    11. Sudha Narayanan Narayanan & Nicolas Gerber, 2016. "Safety Nets for Food and Nutritional Security in India," FOODSECURE Working papers 37, LEI Wageningen UR.
    12. Khera, Reetika, 2014. "Cash vs. in-kind transfers: Indian data meets theory," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 116-128.
    13. National Institute of Public Finance and Policy NIPFP, 2013. "A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Aadhaar," Working Papers id:5603, eSocialSciences.
    14. Stephen Howes & Dung Doan, 2012. "Revisiting the relationship between targeting and program performance," Development Policy Centre Discussion Papers 1212, Development Policy Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    15. Armando Barrientos & Sony Pellissery, 2012. "Delivering effective social assistance: does politics matter?," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series esid-009-12, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
    16. repec:eee:wdevel:v:98:y:2017:i:c:p:555-572 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social security; pensions; unconditional cash transfers; India; widows;

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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