Targeting Humanitarian Aid Using Administrative Data: Model Design and Validation

72 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2019 Last revised: 12 Aug 2020

See all articles by Onur Altindag

Onur Altindag

Bentley University; Economic Research Forum

Stephen D. O'Connell

Emory University

Aytug Sasmaz

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Zeynep Balcioglu

Northeastern University - Department of Political Science

Paola Cadoni

UNHCR

Matilda Jerneck

UNHCR

Aimee Kunze Foong

UNHCR

Date Written: August 29, 2019

Abstract

We develop and assess the performance of an econometric targeting model for a large scale humanitarian aid program providing unconditional cash and food assistance to refugees in Lebanon. We use regularized linear regression to derive a prediction model for household expenditure based on demographic and background characteristics from administrative data that are routinely collected by humanitarian agencies. Standard metrics of prediction accuracy suggest this approach compares favorably to the commonly used "scorecard" Proxy Means Test, which requires a survey of the entire target population. We confirm these results through a blind validation test performed on a random sample collected after the model derivation.

Keywords: poverty targeting, proxy means test, cash transfers, refugees, forced displacement, Lebanon

JEL Classification: I39, I32, O12

Suggested Citation

Altindag, Onur and O'Connell, Stephen D. and Sasmaz, Aytug and Balcioglu, Zeynep and Cadoni, Paola and Jerneck, Matilda and Kunze Foong, Aimee, Targeting Humanitarian Aid Using Administrative Data: Model Design and Validation (August 29, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3444974 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3444974

Onur Altindag

Bentley University

175 Forest Street
Waltham, MA 02145
United States

Economic Research Forum ( email )

Cairo
Egypt

Stephen D. O'Connell (Contact Author)

Emory University ( email )

1602 Fishburne Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

Aytug Sasmaz

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

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

Zeynep Balcioglu

Northeastern University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Boston, MA 02115
United States

Paola Cadoni

UNHCR ( email )

United States

Matilda Jerneck

UNHCR ( email )

United States

Aimee Kunze Foong

UNHCR ( email )

United States

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