NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Transfers in Cash and In Kind: Theory Meets the Data

Janet Currie, Firouz Gahvari

NBER Working Paper No. 13557
Issued in October 2007
NBER Program(s):   PE   POL

We review theoretical explanations for in-kind transfers in light of the limited empirical evidence. After reviewing the traditional paternalistic arguments, we consider explanations based on imperfect information and self-targeting. We then discuss the large literature on in-kind programs as a way of improving the efficiency of the tax system and a range of other possible explanations including the "Samaritan's Dilemma", pecuniary effects, credit constraints, asymmetric information amongst agents, and political economy considerations. Our reading of the evidence suggests that paternalism and interdependent preferences are leading overall explanations for the existence of in-kind transfer programs, but that some of the other arguments may apply to specific cases. Political economy considerations must also be part of the story.

download in pdf format
   (534 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (534 K) or via email.

This paper was revised on November 5, 2007

Acknowledgments

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Published: Janet Currie & Firouz Gahvari, 2008. "Transfers in Cash and In-Kind: Theory Meets the Data," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(2), pages 333-83, June.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Cunha, De Giorgi, and Jayachandran w17456 The Price Effects of Cash Versus In-Kind Transfers
Hoynes and Schanzenbach w13025 Consumption Responses to In-Kind Transfers: Evidence from the Introduction of the Food Stamp Program
Moffitt w8730 Economic Effects of Means-Tested Transfers in the U.S.
Currie w4539 Welfare and the Well-Being of Children: The Relative Effectiveness of Cash and In-Kind Transfers
Smeeding Approaches to Measuring and Valuing In-Kind Subsidies and the Distribution of Their Benefits
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us