Joint UNU-MERIT/School of Governance Seminar:“Evaluating the pro-poorness of income transfers: Does the choice of poverty indicator influence the assessment?”
The pro-poorness of income transfers depends on a complex mix of social protection programmes, each having its own purpose, design and implementation. However, an assessment of the poverty reduction impact of such programmes also depends on the indicator that is used to evaluate pro-poorness. While income is by far the most used welfare indicator for such an exercise, income indicators are now increasingly supplemented with a range of non-income indicators in areas such as material deprivation.
This seminar by Dr. Geranda Notten (Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, Canada) investigates how influential the choice of welfare indicator is when evaluating the poverty reduction impact of income transfers. She evaluates the pro-poorness of income transfers using the official EU income poverty and material deprivation indicators, focusing on transfers that are relevant for families with working-age adults (family, unemployment, welfare and housing transfers). These transfers are compared between six EU member states (France, Germany, Ireland, United Kingdom, Sweden and the Netherlands). The pro-poorness of a transfer increases as i) the number of poor households receiving the transfer increases (coverage), ii) the transfer to poor households increases (adequacy), and iii) the share of total programme transfers distributed to poor households increases.
The study she will present involves the analysis of survey data (quantitative) and programme information from various sources (qualitative): EU-SILC data are used to estimate the pro-poorness of these transfer categories while information on the characteristics of the transfer programmes is required to understand programme design, to check the validity of the empirical findings and to assess the role of programme design on outcomes in terms of pro-poorness. Preliminary analyses indicate that the choice of poverty indicator influences the assessment of the pro-poorness of income transfers. “Last resort” type income transfers, for example, are assessed as more pro-poor when evaluated with a material deprivation indicator than with an income poverty indicator. These findings suggests that the currently dominant use of income poverty indicators to assess the (cost)-effectiveness of programmes that aim to reach the poor and reduce poverty needs to be reconsidered.
Dr. Geranda Notten is assistant professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (Canada). She specializes in poverty and social policy research and has been working on developed and developing countries including the European Union, United States, Russia and Congo (Brazzaville). In her current research she studies children’s living conditions in Germany, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The project focuses on the breadth of deprivation: to what degree does a child simultaneously experience deprivations across domains of well-being, how strongly are these deprivation outcomes related to income poverty and how effective are social protection transfers in reaching deprived children and their families? Dr. Notten has been a visiting researcher at CEPS/INSTEAD (Luxembourg), the Kennedy School of Government (USA) and the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance (Netherlands). She holds a PhD in economics from Maastricht University (Netherlands).
For more information and to register, please visit the UNU-MERIT seminars page.