Timing of capture of anti-poverty programs: rural public works and food for work programs in rural India

Author name: 
Raghbendra Jha
Sambit Bhattacharyya
Raghav Gaiha

Using National Sample Survey data for rural India we examine the incidence of capture in two workfare programs in rural India: the Rural Public Works and the Food for Work Programs for 1993–94 and 2004–05 respectively. We discover a high degree of program capture among the general population. Among the traditionally backward groups in Indian rural society — but with considerable variation in their living standards — there appears to be a higher degree of capture among SC than among ST. Targeting among SC worsened over time. There was an increase in capture by the fourth quintile (of household per capita expenditure) of SC, ST and landowners. This may be reflective of a varying degree of collusion between the elite and the program implementing agencies (e.g., village councils) over time. Thus potential benefits of workfare get undermined. We also provide evidence to suggest that income based targeting could outperform social group based targeting.

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