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Self-Targeting: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia

Vivi Alatas, Abhijit Banerjee, Rema Hanna, Benjamin Olken, Ririn Purnamasari and Matthew Wai-Poi

Journal of Political Economy, 2016, vol. 124, issue 2, 371 - 427

Abstract: This paper shows that adding a small application cost to a transfer program can substantially improve targeting through self-selection. Our village-level experiment in Indonesia finds that requiring beneficiaries to apply for benefits results in substantially poorer beneficiaries than automatic enrollment using the same asset test. Marginally increasing application costs on an experimental basis does not further improve targeting. Estimating a model of the application decision implies that the results are largely driven by the nonpoor, who make up the bulk of the population, forecasting that they are unlikely to pass the asset test and therefore not bothering to apply.

Date: 2016
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