Prioritarian rates of return to antipoverty transfers

Barrientos, Armando / Stephan Dietrich / Franziska Gassmann / Daniele Malerba
External Publications (2022)

in: Journal of International Development, 34 (3), 550-563

Open access

A growing impact evaluation literature on antipoverty transfer programmes in low- and middle-income countries measures changes in utilitarian terms, at their unit value. The paper argues that valuing antipoverty transfers is more appropriately done within a framework of prioritarian social welfare functions, as the very presence of these programmes indicates that polities place a greater value on gains and losses among the disadvantaged. The paper applies this framework to the Senior Citizen Grant in Uganda, including survey and experimental work throwing light on social preferences for redistribution. It finds that default utilitarian valuation significantly underestimates the social value of transfer programmes.

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