Benefit incidence and the timing of program capture
Survey-based estimates of average program participation conditional on income are often used in assessing the distributional impacts of public spending reforms. But program participation could well be nonhomogeneous, so that marginal impacts of program expansion or contraction differ greatly from average impacts. Using the geographic variation found in sample survey data for rural India for 1993-94, the authors estimate the marginal odds of participating in schooling and antipoverty programs. Their results suggest early capture of these programs by the nonpoor. Thus, conventional methods of assessing benefit incidence underestimate the gains to India's rural poor from higher public outlays, and their loss from program cuts.
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