Manipulation of Social Program Eligibility: Detection, Explanations and Consequences for Empirical Research

56 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2010

See all articles by Emily Conover

Emily Conover

Hamilton College - Economics Department

Adriana Camacho

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics

Date Written: August 20, 2009

Abstract

We document manipulation of a targeting system which used a poverty index score to determine eligibility for social welfare programs in Colombia, including health insurance. We show strategic behavior in the timing of the household interviews around local elections, and direct manipulation when some households had their eligibility scores lowered. Initially the number of interviews increased around local elections. After the algorithm was made public to local officials, the score density exhibited a sharp discontinuity exactly at the eligibility threshold. The discontinuity at the threshold is larger where mayoral elections are more competitive; and smaller in municipalities with less competitive elections, more community organizations and higher newspaper circulation.

Keywords: Manipulation, Targeting, Local elections, Colombia

JEL Classification: D72, I32, I38

Suggested Citation

Conover, Emily and Camacho, Adriana, Manipulation of Social Program Eligibility: Detection, Explanations and Consequences for Empirical Research (August 20, 2009). Documento CEDE No. 2009-19. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1543444 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1543444

Emily Conover

Hamilton College - Economics Department ( email )

198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
United States

Adriana Camacho (Contact Author)

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics ( email )

Carrera 1a No. 18A-10
Santafe de Bogota, AA4976
Colombia

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