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

Presenter: Adriana Camacho is an assistant Professor at the Economics Department at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. Her areas of interest are health economics and development economics with a specialization in empirical research.  Her paper “Stress and Birth Outcomes: Evidence from Terrorist Attacks” was published in the papers and proceedings of the American Economic Review in 2008. Adriana's research agenda is focus on the impact evaluation of social programs in Colombia.  Specifically she has studied the effect and consequences of the early nineties health Reform in Colombia over informal labor markets, the political economy of the reform, the impact on health outcomes. She holds a B.A and M.A from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá-Colombia, and  M.A and Ph.D from Brown University , Providence-RI.
Chair: Emmanuel Skoufias, Lead Economist, PRMPR
Discussant: Margaret Ellen Grosh, Lead Economist, LCSHD
When: Thursday, March 11, 2010 ,12:30 - 2:00 pm
Description: 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.



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