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NBER Working Papers and Publications
|June 2013||Ordeal Mechanisms In Targeting: Theory And Evidence From A Field Experiment In Indonesia|
with Abhijit Banerjee, Rema Hanna, Benjamin A. Olken, Ririn Purnamasari, Matthew Wai-Poi: w19127
Economic theory suggests that, when designing aid programs, ordeal mechanisms that impose differential costs for rich and poor can induce self-selection and hence improve targeting ("self-targeting"). We first re-examine this theory and show that ordeal mechanisms may actually have theoretically ambiguous effects on targeting: for example, time spent applying imposes a higher monetary cost on the rich, but may impose a higher utility cost on the poor. We then examine these issues empirically by conducting a 400-village field experiment within Indonesia's Conditional Cash Transfer program. Targeting in the program is usually conducted by automatically enrolling candidates who pass an asset test. We compare whether instituting an ordeal mechanism, where villagers come to a central applicatio...
|February 2013||Does Elite Capture Matter? Local Elites and Targeted Welfare Programs in Indonesia|
with Abhijit Banerjee, Rema Hanna, Benjamin A. Olken, Ririn Purnamasari, Matthew Wai-Poi: w18798
This paper investigates the impact of elite capture on the allocation of targeted government welfare programs in Indonesia, using both a high-stakes field experiment that varied the extent of elite influence and non-experimental data on a variety of existing government transfer programs. Conditional on their consumption level, there is little evidence that village elites and their relatives are more likely to receive aid programs than non-elites. However, this overall result masks stark differences between different types of elites: those holding formal leadership positions are more likely to receive benefits, while informal leaders are less likely to receive them. We show that capture by formal elites occurs when program benefits are actually distributed to households, and not during the ...
|August 2012||Network Structure and the Aggregation of Information: Theory and Evidence from Indonesia|
with Abhijit Banerjee, Arun G. Chandrasekhar, Rema Hanna, Benjamin A. Olken: w18351
We use unique data from 600 Indonesian communities on what individuals know about the poverty status of others to study how network structure influences information aggregation. We develop a model of semi-Bayesian learning on networks, which we structurally estimate using within-village data. The model generates qualitative predictions about how cross-village patterns of learning relate to different network structures, which we show are borne out in the data. We apply our findings to a community-based targeting program, where villagers chose which households should receive aid, and show that networks the model predicts to be more diffusive differentially benefit from community targeting.
Published: Vivi Alatas & Abhijit Banerjee & Arun G. Chandrasekhar & Rema Hanna & Benjamin A. Olken, 2016. "Network Structure and the Aggregation of Information: Theory and Evidence from Indonesia," American Economic Review, vol 106(7), pages 1663-1704.
|May 2010||Targeting the Poor: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia|
with Abhijit Banerjee, Rema Hanna, Benjamin A. Olken, Julia Tobias: 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...
Published: Vivi Alatas & Abhijit Banerjee & Rema Hanna & Benjamin A. Olken & Julia Tobias, 2012. "Targeting the Poor: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1206-40, June. citation courtesy of