NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Julia Tobias

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Working Papers

May 2010Targeting the Poor: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia
with Vivi Alatas, Abhijit Banerjee, Rema Hanna, Benjamin A. Olken: w15980
In developing countries, identifying the poor for redistribution or social insurance is challenging because the government lacks information about people’s incomes. This paper reports the results of a field experiment conducted in 640 Indonesian villages that investigated two main approaches to solving this problem: proxy-means tests, where a census of hard-to-hide assets is used to predict consumption, and community-based targeting, where villagers rank everyone on a scale from richest to poorest. When poverty is defined using per-capita expenditure and the common PPP$2 per day threshold, we find that community-based targeting performs worse in identifying the poor than proxy-means tests, particularly near the threshold. This worse performance does not appear to be due to elite capture. I...

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