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How relevant is targeting to the success of an antipoverty program ?


  • Ravallion, Martin


Policy-oriented discussions often assume that"better targeting"implies larger impacts on poverty or more cost-effective interventions. The literature on the economics of targeting warns against that assumption, but evidence has been scarce. The paper begins with a critical review of the strengths and weaknesses of the targeting measures found in practice. It then exploits an unusually large micro data set for China to estimate aggregate and local-level poverty impacts of the country's main urban antipoverty program. Standard measures of targeting are found to be uninformative, or even deceptive, about impacts on poverty and cost-effectiveness in reducing poverty. In program design and evaluation, it would be better to focus directly on the program's outcomes for poor people than to rely on prevailing measures of targeting.

Suggested Citation

  • Ravallion, Martin, 2007. "How relevant is targeting to the success of an antipoverty program ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4385, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4385

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    Cited by:

    1. Marcano, Luis & Ruprah, Inder J., 2008. "An Impact Evaluation of Chile's Progressive Housing Program," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 2896, Inter-American Development Bank.
    2. Alain de Janvry & Frederico Finan & Elisabeth Sadoulet, 2012. "Local Electoral Incentives and Decentralized Program Performance," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 672-685, August.
    3. Nasri, Khaled, 2020. "Social Safety Nets in Tunisia: Do Benefits Reach the Poor and Vulnerable households at the Regional Level?," GLO Discussion Paper Series 440, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    4. Gundersen, Craig & Jolliffe, Dean & Tiehen, Laura, 2009. "The challenge of program evaluation: When increasing program participation decreases the relative well-being of participants," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 367-376, August.
    5. Stephan Klasen & Simon Lange, 2015. "Targeting Performance and Poverty Effects of Proxy Means-Tested Transfers: Trade-offs and Challenges," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 231, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
    6. Robano, Virginia & Smith, Stephen C., 2013. "Multidimensional Targeting and Evaluation: A General Framework with an Application to a Poverty Program in Bangladesh," IZA Discussion Papers 7593, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Abhijit Banerjee, 2016. "Policies for a better-fed world," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 152(1), pages 3-17, February.
    8. Segal, Paul, 2011. "Resource Rents, Redistribution, and Halving Global Poverty: The Resource Dividend," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 475-489, April.
    9. Houssou, Nazaire & Zeller, Manfred, 2009. "Operational Models for Improving the Targeting Efficiency of Agricultural and Development Policies: A systematic comparison of different estimation methods using out-of-sample tests," 2009 Conference, August 16-22, 2009, Beijing, China 51454, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    10. Houssou, Nazaire & Zeller, Manfred, 2010. "Targeting the Poor and Smallholder Farmers Empirical Evidence from Malawi," Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture, Humboldt-Universitaat zu Berlin, vol. 49(4), pages 1-18.
    11. Sabates-Wheeler, Rachel & Hurrell, Alex & Devereux, Stephen, 2014. "Targeting social transfer programmes: Comparing design and implementation errors across alternative mechanisms," WIDER Working Paper Series 040, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    12. repec:dau:papers:123456789/4713 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Rachel Sabates-Wheeler & Alex Hurrell & Stephen Devereux, 2014. "Targeting Social Transfer Programmes: Comparing Design and Implementation Errors Across Alternative Mechanisms," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2014-040, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    14. Cecchini, Simone & Madariaga, Aldo, 2011. "Conditional cash transfer programmes: the recent experience in Latin America and the Caribbean," Cuadernos de la CEPAL, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), number 27855 edited by Eclac, September.
    15. Stephen Devereux & Edoardo Masset & Rachel Sabates-Wheeler & Michael Samson & Althea-Maria Rivas & Dolf te Lintelo, 2017. "The targeting effectiveness of social transfers," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2), pages 162-211, April.

    More about this item


    Services&Transfers to Poor; Poverty Monitoring&Analysis; Population Policies; Poverty Impact Evaluation; Poverty Reduction Strategies;
    All these keywords.

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