The (Lack of) Distortionary Effects of Proxy-Means Tests: Results from a Nationwide Experiment in Indonesia

35 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2018

See all articles by Abhijit V. Banerjee

Abhijit V. Banerjee

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics

Rema Hanna

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Benjamin A. Olken

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Harvard University - Society of Fellows

Sudarno Sumarto

SMERU Research Institute

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 17, 2018

Abstract

Many developing country governments determine eligibility for anti-poverty programs using censuses of household assets. Does this distort subsequent reporting of, or actual purchases of, those assets? We ran a nationwide experiment in Indonesia where, in randomly selected provinces, the government added questions on flat-screen televisions and cell-phone SIM cards to the targeting census administered to 25 million households. In a separate survey six months later, households in treated provinces report fewer televisions, though the effect dissipates thereafter. We find no change in actual television sales, or actual SIM card ownership, suggesting that consumption distortions are likely to be small.

JEL Classification: H31, I38, O12

Suggested Citation

Banerjee, Abhijit V. and Hanna, Rema and Olken, Benjamin A. and Sumarto, Sudarno, The (Lack of) Distortionary Effects of Proxy-Means Tests: Results from a Nationwide Experiment in Indonesia (December 17, 2018). HKS Working Paper No. RWP18-041. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3303358 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3303358

Abhijit V. Banerjee

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
Room E52-252D
Cambridge, MA 02142
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617-253-8855 (Phone)
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Rema Hanna (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Benjamin A. Olken

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
E52-391
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-6833 (Phone)
617-253-1330 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-588-1407 (Phone)

Harvard University - Society of Fellows

Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Sudarno Sumarto

SMERU Research Institute ( email )

Jl. Tulung Agung No. 46
Jakarta, 10310
Indonesia

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