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On the unequal inequality of poor communities

Author

Listed:
  • Elbers, Chris
  • Lanjouw, Peter F.
  • Mistiaen, Johan
  • Ozler, Berk
  • Simler, Ken

Abstract

Important differences exist between communities with respect to their needs, capacities, and circumstances. As central governments are not able to discern these differences fully, they seek to achieve their policy objectives by relying on decentralized mechanisms that use local information. However, household and individual characteristics within communities can also vary substantially. A growing theoretical literature suggests that inequality within communities can influence policy outcomes, and that this influence could be harmful or helpful, depending on the circumstances. Empirical investigations into the impact of inequality have, to date, largely been held back by a lack of systematic evidence on community-level inequality. The authors use household survey and population census data to estimate per capita consumption inequality within communities in three developing countries: Ecuador, Madagascar, and Mozambique. Communities are found to vary markedly from one another in terms of the degree of inequality they exhibit. The authors also show that there should be no presumption that inequality is less severe in poor communities. They argue that the kind of community-level inequality estimates generated in this paper can be used in designing and evaluating decentralized antipoverty programs.

Suggested Citation

  • Elbers, Chris & Lanjouw, Peter F. & Mistiaen, Johan & Ozler, Berk & Simler, Ken, 2004. "On the unequal inequality of poor communities," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3313, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3313
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    Cited by:

    1. Claudio A. Agostini & Philip H. Brown, 2010. "Local Distributional Effects Of Government Cash Transfers In Chile," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 56(2), pages 366-388, June.
    2. Tomoki Fujii, 2013. "Geographic decomposition of inequality in health and wealth: evidence from Cambodia," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 11(3), pages 373-392, September.
    3. Araujo, M. Caridad & Ferreira, Francisco H.G. & Lanjouw, Peter & Özler, Berk, 2008. "Local inequality and project choice: Theory and evidence from Ecuador," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1022-1046, June.
    4. Shilpi, Forhad, 2013. "Understanding the sources of spatial disparity and convergence : evidence from Bangladesh," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6519, The World Bank.
    5. Ramírez, E. & Tartakowsky, A. & Modrego, F., 2009. "La importancia de la desigualdad geográfica en Chile," Working papers 030, Rimisp Latin American Center for Rural Development.
    6. World Bank, 2004. "Morocco - Poverty Report : Strengthening Policy by Identifying the Geographic Dimension of poverty," World Bank Other Operational Studies 14420, The World Bank.
    7. Chris Elbers & Peter Lanjouw & Johan Mistiaen & Berk Özler, 2008. "Reinterpreting between-group inequality," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 6(3), pages 231-245, September.
    8. Claudio A. Agostini & Philip H. Brown, 2010. "Inequality at Low Levels of Aggregation in Chile," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(2), pages 213-226, May.
    9. Modrego, F. & Celis, X. & Berdegué, J., 2008. "Polarización étnica de los ingresos rurales en el sur de Chile," Working papers 015, Rimisp Latin American Center for Rural Development.
    10. de Janvry, Alain & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 2007. "Toward a Territorial Approach to Rural Development," eJADE: electronic Journal of Agricultural and Development Economics, Food and Agriculture Organization, Agricultural and Development Economics Division, vol. 4(1).
    11. Krishna, Anirudh, 2007. "For Reducing Poverty Faster: Target Reasons Before People," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(11), pages 1947-1960, November.
    12. Claudio Agostini & Phillip Brown, 2007. "Desigualdad geográfica en Chile," Revista de Analisis Economico – Economic Analysis Review, Ilades-Georgetown University, Universidad Alberto Hurtado/School of Economics and Bussines, vol. 22(1), pages 3-33, June.
    13. Elbers, Chris & Lanjouw, Peter & Mistiaen, Johan A. & Ozler, Berk, 2005. "Re-interpreting sub-group inequality decompositions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3687, The World Bank.
    14. Modrego, Félix & Berdegué, Julio A., 2015. "A Large-Scale Mapping of Territorial Development Dynamics in Latin America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 11-31.
    15. Tomoki Fujii, 2008. "Two-sample estimation of poverty rates for disabled people : an application to Tanzania," Microeconomics Working Papers 22420, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    16. Elbers, Chris & Fujii, Tomoki & Lanjouw, Peter & Ozler, Berk & Yin, Wesley, 2007. "Poverty alleviation through geographic targeting: How much does disaggregation help?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 198-213, May.
    17. Remuzgo, Lorena & Sarabia, José María, 2013. "Desigualdad en la distribución mundial de emisiones de CO2 por sectores: Descomposición y estudio de sensibilidad/Inequality of Global Distribution of CO2 Emissions by Sector: Decomposition and Sensit," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 31, pages 65-92, Enero.
    18. Modrego, F. & Ramírez, E. & Tartakowsky, A., 2008. "La heterogeneidad espacial del desarrollo económico en Chile," Working papers 009, Rimisp Latin American Center for Rural Development.
    19. Emwanu, Thomas & Hoogeveen, Johannes G. & Okiira Okwi, Paul, 2006. "Updating Poverty Maps with Panel Data," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(12), pages 2076-2088, December.
    20. Rimisp, 2008. "Investigación Aplicada de Dinámicas Territoriales Rurales en América Latina: Marco Metodológico. Versión 2," Working papers 002, Rimisp Latin American Center for Rural Development.
    21. Janvry, Alain de & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 2004. "Fitting the Facts and Capitalizing on New Opportunities to Redesign Rural Development Programs in Latin America," Brazilian Journal of Rural Economy and Sociology (RESR), Sociedade Brasileira de Economia e Sociologia Rural, vol. 42(3), September.
    22. Christian Lehmann, 2010. "Why may government transfers to the poor have modest effects on reducing rural inequality?," Working Papers halshs-00564924, HAL.

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