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Poverty Targeting in Asia
Most governments attempt to target resources directly at the poor through a variety of measures including food and credit subsidies, job creation schemes and basic health and education projects. These measures are usually classified as being either promotional (to help raise welfare in the long term), or protectional (to support the poor in times of adverse shocks). However, for many Asian countries the reality of these poverty targeting measures has proved disappointing. Following a comprehensive overview by the editor, this book offers a detailed assessment of the results of directly channelling resources to the poor and extensively discusses the experience of five Asian countries - India, Indonesia, the People's Republic of China, the Philippines and Thailand. The authors demonstrate how in many cases these targeting measures have failed due to their high cost and errors of both undercoverage (where many of the poor are excluded) and leakage (when many of the better-off also benefit from these schemes).
The authors conclude that whilst poverty targeting remains a critically important objective, past targeting errors must not be forgotten and improved methods of both identifying and reaching the poor must be implemented. Written by leading experts in the field and including analysis of original country surveys, this seminal text documents clearly the operation and success of aid schemes in Asia. This book will make a worthy addition to the literature on development, poverty reduction, social welfare and Asian studies. It will also be an important source of reference for academics and students of economic development, aid practitioners, government officials and development NGOs.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'This book is a "must read" for researchers and students interested in poverty, poverty reduction, social welfare and development. It provides systematic and comparative studies on the design features, achievements and problems of targeting, set against specific national contexts. The economic focus of the analysis is balanced with sections on the political economy of targeting and management aspects (administrative systems and incentives). While the considerable variations between targeting mechanisms, schemes and contexts demonstrate the difficulties of blanket policy prescriptions, the book presents a fascinating conclusion. Rather than continuing the debate about universal versus targeted approaches, it proposes that a mixed approach might be best: the "broad" targeting of basic services such as primary education and health care combined with the "narrow" targeting of social protection schemes for the very poor.' -- David Hulme, University of Manchester, UK