Data, discretion and institutional capacity: Evidence from cash transfers in Pakistan
Muhammad Haseeb and
Journal of Public Economics, 2022, vol. 206, issue C
Administrative data is key to many government functions; but generating and maintaining it is costly and challenging in low-income countries. We study an overhaul of public assistance in Pakistan that created a national database of household assets and used the data to means-test cash transfers, eliminating discretion in their allocation. We use difference-in-differences and regression discontinuity approaches to quantify the effect of this reform. Favoritism and transfers to wealthy households dropped; we estimate that the welfare benefits of the reform were seven times as large as its costs. The reform improved public perceptions of social assistance and helped create a robust institution that survived political transitions.
Keywords: Targeting; Cash transfers; Favoritism; Administrative data (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D73 H53 I38 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:206:y:2022:i:c:s0047272721001717
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