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The principles of targeting

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  • Besley, Timothy
  • Kanbur, Ravi

Abstract

In response to calls for finer targeting of spending to alleviate poverty in developing countries, this paper discusses the principles of targeting. The ideal solution is that all transfers go to the poor. However, this is unrealizable because of three factors: (a) the costs of administration and data collection; (b) individual responses and incentive effects; and (c) considerations of political economy. The best strategy will probably lie somewhere between the two extremes - the ideal solution and universal intervention - mediated by these three considerations. Two types of targeting, although short of the ideal may be useful in certain contexts. With statistical targeting (using indicators), programs target key indicators such as a region, occupation, or the crops grown. Self-targeting uses differences in needs, tastes, or incomes as a device for achieving self-selection by only the poor into poverty alleviation programs. Real progress in understanding how targeting works best can be made only through country specific research that quantifies the costs and benefits of targeting using data that has increasingly become available for many developing countries - and research that is sensitive to the political realities of reform.

Suggested Citation

  • Besley, Timothy & Kanbur, Ravi, 1990. "The principles of targeting," Policy Research Working Paper Series 385, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:385
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    Cited by:

    1. Stefan Dercon & Pramila Krishnan, 2003. "Food aid and informal insurance," CSAE Working Paper Series 2003-01, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    2. Lucas Ronconi & Juan Sanguinetti & Sandra Fachelli & Virginia Casazza & Ignacio Franceschelli, 2006. "Poverty and Employability Effects of Workfare Programs in Argentina," Working Papers PMMA 2006-14, PEP-PMMA.
    3. Claudio A. Agostini & Philip H. Brown, 2011. "Cash Transfers And Poverty Reduction In Chile," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 604-625, August.
    4. Andaleeb Rahman, 2015. "Universal Food Security Program and Nutritional Intake: Evidence from the Hunger Prone KBK Districts in Odisha," Working Papers id:6925, eSocialSciences.
    5. Bodenstein, Thilo & Kemmerling, Achim, 2015. "A Paradox of Redistribution in International Aid? The Determinants of Poverty-Oriented Development Assistance," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 359-369.
    6. Rahman, Andaleeb, 2016. "Universal food security program and nutritional intake: Evidence from the hunger prone KBK districts in Odisha," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 73-86.
    7. Schady, Norbert R, 2002. "Picking the Poor: Indicators for Geographic Targeting in Peru," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 48(3), pages 417-433, September.
    8. Gelkha Buitrago & Werner Güth & M. Vittoria Levati, 2006. "Does anticipated aid create the need it wants to avoid? An experimental investigation," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2006-24, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
    9. Stoeffler, Quentin & Mills, Bradford & del Ninno, Carlo, 2016. "Reaching the Poor: Cash Transfer Program Targeting in Cameroon," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 244-263.
    10. Saari, M. Yusof & Dietzenbacher, Erik & Los, Bart, 2015. "Sources of Income Growth and Inequality Across Ethnic Groups in Malaysia, 1970–2000," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 311-328.
    11. Bhaskar Dutta & Bharat Ramaswami, 2004. "Reforming Food Subsidy Schemes: Estimating the Gains from Self-targeting in India," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, pages 309-324.
    12. Minot, Nicholas, 1998. "Generating disaggregated poverty maps," MTID discussion papers 25, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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    14. Basu, Karna & Wong, Maisy, 2015. "Evaluating seasonal food storage and credit programs in east Indonesia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 200-216.
    15. Pinto, Santiago M., 2004. "Assistance to poor households when income is not observed: targeted in-kind and in-cash transfers," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 536-553, November.
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    17. World Bank, 2002. "Sri Lanka : Poverty Assessment," World Bank Other Operational Studies 15387, The World Bank.

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