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Decentralized beneficiary targeting in large-scale development programs : insights from the Malawi farm input subsidy program

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  • Kilic, Talip
  • Whitney, Edward
  • Winters, Paul

Abstract

This paper contributes to the long-standing debate on the merits of decentralized beneficiary targeting in the administration of development programs, focusing on the large-scale Malawi Farm Input Subsidy Program. Nationally-representative household survey data are used to systematically analyze the decentralized targeting performance of the program during the 2009-2010 agricultural season. The analysis begins with a standard targeting assessment based on the rates of program participation and the benefit amounts among the eligible and non-eligible populations, and provides decompositions of the national targeting performance into the inter-district, intra-district inter-community, and intra-district intra-community components. This approach identifies the relative contributions of targeting at each level. The results show that the Farm Input Subsidy Program is not poverty targeted and that the national government, districts, and communities are nearly uniform in their failure to target the poor, with any minimal targeting (or mis-targeting) overwhelmingly materializing at the community level. The findings are robust to the choice of the eligibility indicator and the decomposition method. The multivariate analysis of household program participation reinforces these results and reveals that the relatively well-off, rather than the poor or the wealthiest, and the locally well-connected have a higher likelihood of program participation and, on average, receive a greater number of input coupons. Since a key program objective is to increase food security and income among resource-poor farmers, the lack of targeting is a concern and should underlie considerations of alternative targeting approaches that, in part or completely, rely on proxy means tests at the local level.

Suggested Citation

  • Kilic, Talip & Whitney, Edward & Winters, Paul, 2013. "Decentralized beneficiary targeting in large-scale development programs : insights from the Malawi farm input subsidy program," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6713, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6713
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Muhammad Haseeb & Kate Vyborny, 2016. "Imposing institutions: Evidence from cash transfer reform in Pakistan," CSAE Working Paper Series 2016-36, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    2. Darko, Francis Addeah & Ricker-Gilbert, Jacob & Shively, Gerald & Florax, Raymond & Kilic, Talip, 2014. "Where and why is Fertilizer (Un)Profitable in sub-Saharan Africa? A Spatial Econometric Analysis of Fertilizer Use in Malawi," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170651, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. L. Kempen, 2014. "Mansuri, Ghazala and Rao, Vijayendra: Localizing development. Does participation work?," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 112(2), pages 201-205, June.
    4. Maria Sassi, 2015. "Seasonality and Trends in Child Malnutrition: Time-Series Analysis of Health Clinic Data from the Dowa District of Malawi," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(12), pages 1667-1682, December.
    5. Blessings Chinsinga & Colin Poulton, 2014. "Beyond Technocratic Debates: The Significance and Transience of Political Incentives in the Malawi Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP)," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 32(s2), pages 123-150, September.
    6. Hanan Jacoby, 2016. "Smart Subsidy?," World Bank Other Operational Studies 24946, The World Bank.
    7. Darko, Francis A., 2015. "Income Inequality in Malawi: Does the Farm Input Subsidy Program Play a Role?," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205710, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Rural Poverty Reduction; Poverty Monitoring&Analysis; Economic Theory&Research; Regional Economic Development; Services&Transfers to Poor;

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