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Needs and Targeting


  • Michael Michael Keen


This paper shows that when - in the manner of the recent targeting literature - the resources available for poverty relief are allocated across heterogeneous groups so as to minimize a 'well-behaved' index of aggregate poverty, the optimal response to an increase in the needs of some group may be to reduce the resources allocated to it. Necessary and sufficient conditions for optimally-targeted benefits to be inversely related to needs are established under two polar forms of poverty alleviation strategy (pure contingency and strict means-testing) and the wider methodological implications of this possibility discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Michael Keen, 1991. "Needs and Targeting," Working Papers 822, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:qed:wpaper:822

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gupta, Kanhaya L, 1971. "Aggregation Bias in Linear Economic Models," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 12(2), pages 293-305, June.
    2. repec:qed:wpaper:37 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Miguel Székely, 1997. "Policy Options for Poverty Alleviation," Research Department Publications 4062, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    2. Subramanian, S., 2004. "Indicators of Inequality and Poverty," WIDER Working Paper Series 025, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Chakravarty, Satya R. & Mukherjee, Diganta, 1998. "Optimal subsidy for the poor," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 313-319, December.
    4. Udo Ebert, 2010. "Equity-regarding poverty measures: differences in needs and the role of equivalence scales," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 43(1), pages 301-322, February.
    5. Robin Boadway & Pierre Pestieau, 2006. "Tagging and redistributive taxation," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 83-84, pages 123-147.
    6. Olivier Bargain & Olivier Donni, 2007. "A Theory of Child Targeting," Working Papers 200710, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    7. Kanbur, Ravi & Tuomala, Matti, 2016. "Groupings and the gains from tagging," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 53-63.
    8. D. Jayaraj & S. Subramanian, 2005. "Assessing the ‘Agedness’ of A Population," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 72(3), pages 343-371, July.
    9. Alari Paulus, 2016. "The antipoverty performance of universal and means-tested benefits with costly take-up," ImPRovE Working Papers 16/12, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    10. Murgai, Rinku & Ravallion, Martin, 2005. "Is a guaranteed living wage a good anti-poverty policy?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3640, The World Bank.
    11. Subramanian, S., 2004. "Poverty Measures and Anti-Poverty Policy with an Egalitarian Constraint," WIDER Working Paper Series 012, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    12. Subramanian, S., 2004. "Social Groups and Economic Poverty: A Problem in Measurement," WIDER Working Paper Series 059, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    13. Miguel Székely, 1997. "Opciones de políticas para la paliación de la pobreza," Research Department Publications 4063, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.

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    poverty; social security; needs;


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