How poverty indicators confound poverty reduction evaluations: The targeting performance of income transfers in Europe

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Title: How poverty indicators confound poverty reduction evaluations: The targeting performance of income transfers in Europe
Authors: Notten, G
Date: 2015-06-24
Abstract: This paper investigates whether two popular poverty indicators, namely income poverty and material deprivation, reach similar conclusions about the poverty reduction effects of income transfers. Such evaluations generally use income poverty. It is well-known, however, that poverty indicators regularly disagree about a person’s poverty status. What is less known is whether such disagreement also confounds estimates of a program’s poverty reduction effects. This paper compares the targeting performance of social assistance, housing and family transfers in countries with different welfare states namely Germany, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. It finds that a transfer’s targeting performance does not differ much when defining the transfer’s target group either as the poorest income quintile or the poorest material deprivation quintile. Yet, when combining the information from both indicators, transfers appear much more effective in reaching those groups that both poverty indicators identify as part of the target group. Transfers also appear much more efficient in excluding non-target populations. For the groups on which the poverty indicators disagree, more analysis is needed. Triangulation between poverty indicators thus improves the validity of program evaluations as it enables a better separation between (potential) poverty measurement issues and the measurement of a program’s (potential) effects.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/35036
DOI: 10.1007/s11205-015-0996-4
CollectionAffaires publiques et internationales - Publications // Public and International Affairs - Publications
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