#2012-028 Whom to target - an obvious choice?
Esther Schuering & Franziska Gassmann
Whom to target - an obvious choice?
There has been an ongoing debate among researchers, policy-makers and
development partners in low-income countries on whether and to what
degree non-contributory social transfers should be targeted to the poor
or paid out universally to every citizen or to all citizens in a
particular category. This paper critically discusses the assumptions
behind the political economy arguments of targeting and tests whether a
universal mechanism is bound to politically excel in a low-income
country context. A number of authors have argued that going universal is
a win-win situation, both for the poor, the middle class as well as
those who are in power. We would therefore expect broad-based support
behind a universal scheme, in particular in countries where poverty is
widespread and targeting also proves administratively challenging. On
the basis of attitudinal surveys with the urban, rural and student
population in Zambia, we actually detect more support for targeting the
poor than the political economy models would predict. These findings are
corroborated by experimental evidence from rural Zambia. We discuss the
assumptions of the political economy models in the light of these
findings and contemplate on potentially decisive parameters that the
models currently do not incorporate.
Key words: political economy, targeting, universalism
JEL codes: H53, I38, O15