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The political economy of targeted safety nets


  • Pritchett, Lant


This paper is the written version of a lecture that draws principally on research on safety nets and operational experience with the implementation of safety nets, drawing heavily on the crisis of safety net programs in Indonesia from 1998 to 2000. As such it provides more views than reviews of the literature on the principal issues in the political economy of targeted safety net programs. The text is followed by a Q&A that clarifies views put perhaps too starkly in the text. Five major issues are reviewed. First, the implications of some simple models of electoral politics which make the budget allocated to programs endogenous to their targeting design highlight the dangers in ignoring political economy. Second, the political economy of safety net versus safety rope programs is reviewed. Third, some of the literature on the perception of fairness of the targeting criteria is reviewed. Fourth, the issue of local versus central targeting of programs is discussed. Fifth, the political economy of program implementation that considers the fit between program targeting and the organizational culture of the implementing organization is considered.

Suggested Citation

  • Pritchett, Lant, 2005. "The political economy of targeted safety nets," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 31498, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:hdnspu:31498

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Milanovic Branko, 1994. "Cash Social Transfers, Direct Taxes, and Income Distribution in Late Socialism," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 175-197, April.
    3. Bob Baulch & John Hoddinott, 2000. "Economic mobility and poverty dynamics in developing countries," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(6), pages 1-24.
    4. Jalan, Jyotsna & Ravallion, Martin, 2003. "Estimating the Benefit Incidence of an Antipoverty Program by Propensity-Score Matching," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 21(1), pages 19-30, January.
    5. van de Walle, Dominique, 1994. "The Distribution of Subsidies through Public Health Services in Indonesia, 1978-87," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 8(2), pages 279-309, May.
    6. Cox, Donald C & Jimenez, Emmanuel, 1992. "Social Security and Private Transfers in Developing Countries: The Case of Peru," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 6(1), pages 155-169, January.
    7. Becker, Gary S & Mulligan, Casey B, 2003. "Deadweight Costs and the Size of Government," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 293-340, October.
    8. Galasso, Emanuela & Ravallion, Martin, 2000. "Distributional outcomes of a decentralized welfare program," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2316, The World Bank.
    9. Chris Manning, 2000. "Labour Market Adjustment to Indonesia's Economic Crisis: Context, Trends and Implications," Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(1), pages 105-136.
    10. Ferreira, Francisco & Prennushi, Giovanna & Ravallion, Martin, 1999. "Protecting the poor from macroeconomic shocks," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2160, The World Bank.
    11. Alderman, Harold & von Braun, Joachim, 1984. "The effects of the Egyptian food ration and subsidy system on income distribution and consumption:," Research reports 45, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    12. Cameron, Lisa A., 2002. "Did social safety net scholarships reduce drop-out rates during the Indonesian economic crisis?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2800, The World Bank.
    13. De Donder, Philippe & Hindriks, Jean, 1998. "The Political Economy of Targeting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1-2), pages 177-200, April.
    14. Cox, Donald, 1987. "Motives for Private Income Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 508-546, June.
    15. Diamond, Peter & Sheshinski, Eytan, 1995. "Economic aspects of optimal disability benefits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 1-23, May.
    16. Sumarto, Sudarno & Suryahadi, Asep & Pritchett, Lant, 2000. "Safety nets and safety ropes - who benefited from two Indonesian crisis programs - the"poor"or the"shocked"?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2436, The World Bank.
    17. Frankenberg, E. & Thomas, D. & Beegle, K., 1999. "The Real Costs of Indonesia's Economic Crisis: Preliminary Findings from the Indonesia Family Life Surveys," Papers 99-04, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
    18. Suryahadi, Asep*Sumarto, Sudarno*Suharso, Yusuf*, 2000. "The evolution of poverty during the crisis in Indonesia, 1996-99," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2435, The World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. Krishna, Anirudh, 2007. "For Reducing Poverty Faster: Target Reasons Before People," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(11), pages 1947-1960, November.
    2. Wells, Rebecca & Cilenti, Dorothy & Issel, L. Michele, 2015. "The political economy of a public health case management program's transition into medical homes," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 98-106.
    3. World Bank, 2013. "From Universal Price Subsidies to Modern Social Assistance : The Political Economy of Reform," World Bank Other Operational Studies 16723, The World Bank.


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