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UNU-WIDER WP/2012/55 Pro-poor Service Delivery and Social Identity: An Experimental Investigation

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A teenager wears torn rubber boots in a muddy local market in Bac Ha, Viet Nam. As of 2005 figures, half the world population—more than 3 billion people–is estimated to live on less than USD 2.50 a day. Bac Ha, Viet Nam. UN Photo/Kibae Park.

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WP/055 Pro-poor Service Delivery and Social Identity: An Experimental Investigation

India addressed the requirement for pro-poor service delivery in rural regions by introducing decentralization and affirmative action policies. In order to measure the social preferences of local decision makers, we conducted field experiments which simulated the selection of needy beneficiaries for welfare schemes. While potential recipients with less land were clearly favoured, decision makers also allocated resources to recipients with whom they could identify in terms of caste, gender and political party affiliation. The findings imply that the allocation of resources was not only motivated by neediness, but also by in-group favouritism. However, social identity-based preferences carry the danger of exclusion in providing rural services to the poor.
Publisher:
UNU-WIDER
Series:
WIDER Working Paper
Volume:
2012/55
Title:
WP/055 Pro-poor Service Delivery and Social Identity: An Experimental Investigation
Authors:
Ulrike Mueller
Publication date:
May 2012
ISBN 13 Web:
978-92-9230-518-5
Copyright holder:
© UNU-WIDER
Copyright year:
2012
Keywords:
decentralization reforms, service delivery, in-group favouritism, field experiment, India
JEL:
C93, D30, I38, O12
Project:
New Approaches to Measuring Poverty and Vulnerability
Sponsor:
UNU-WIDER gratefully acknowledges the financial contributions to the research programme by the governments of Denmark (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Finland (Ministry for Foreign Affairs), Sweden (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency—Sida), and the United Kingdom (Department for International Development).
Format:
online

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