Geographic inequity in a decentralized anti-poverty program : a case study of China
The central governments of many developing countries have chosen to decentralize their anti-poverty programs, in the expectation that local agents are better informed about local needs. The paper shows that this potential advantage of decentralized eligibility criteria can come at a large cost, to the extent that the induced geographic inequities undermine performance in reaching the income- poor nationally. These issues are studied empirically for (probably) the largest transfer-based poverty program in the world, namely China's Di Bao program,which aims to assure a minimum income through means-tested transfers. Poor municipalities are found to adopt systematically lower eligibility thresholds, reducing the program's ability to reach poor areas, and generating considerable horizontal inequity.
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