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Targeted transfers in poor countries : revisiting the tradeoffs and policy options

  • Ravallion, Martin

Two tradeoffs have been widely seen to severely constrain the scope for attacking poverty using redistributive transfers in poor countries: an equity-efficiency tradeoff and an insurance-efficiency tradeoff. The author provides a critical overview of recent theoretical and empirical work that has called into question the extent of these tradeoffs in poor countries. He argues that these aggregate tradeoffs are often exaggerated. Indeed, they may not even be binding constraints in practice, given market failures. There appears to be scope for using carefully designed transfer schemes as an effective tool against both transient and chronic poverty. However, the same factors that weaken the tradeoffs also suggest that efficient redistributive policies might look rather different to the programs often found in practice.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3048.

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Date of creation: 31 May 2003
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3048
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