Targeted Programs in an Economic Crisis: Empirical Findings from Indonesia’s Experience

CID Faculty Working Paper No. 95

Lant Pritchett, Sudarno Sumarto, Asep Suryahadia
September 2002


In response to the economic, natural, and political crisis that enveloped Indonesia from August 1997 (beginning of depreciation) to May 1998 (resignation of Soeharto), the new government announced support for a set of “safety net” (JPS) programs in July 1998 budget. These included: (a) targeted sales of subsidized rice, (b) work creation programs, (c) scholarships to students and block grants to schools, (d) targeted health care subsidies, (e) community block grants. We used cross sectional and panel data to examine the targeting of these programs. First, "static participation incidence" (the relationship between program participation and household consumption expenditures) was substantially better than a uniform transfer, but substantially worse than perfect targeting --and remarkably similar for all of the JPS programs. Second, unlike standard static incidence measures, what we define as dynamic participation incidence — the relationship between changes in consumption expenditures and program participation — was very different between the JPS programs. The employment creation programs which relied on self-selection targeting was much more likely to reach those households with large shocks to their expenditures than programs based on administrative targeting such as subsidized rice sales, scholarships, and health subsidies. Third, larger coverage does not lead to either better or worse targeting: there is no general tendency across the programs for marginal incidence to be above, or below, average incidence. Fourth, the targeting design of many of the programs was not followed strictly in implementation in all of the programs. Community and individual characteristics that were de jure irrelevant played a role in targeting in practice. In the rice program, community influence led to the program going to many more than the eligible individuals. In other programs, individual characteristics appear to have influenced targeting.

Keywords: targeting, benefic incidence, safety net, Asian crisis, Indonesia

JEL subject codes: I3