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DIME Seminar: Authentication and Targeted Transfers

November 9, 2018

MC 7-860

  • In developing countries, the state often has limited capacity to effectively target transfers.

    We examine the effects of enhanced authentication technology on the de facto performance of India’s largest targeted transfer scheme, the Public Distribution System. We conduct an experiment at scale with the state government of Jharkhand, randomizing the rollout of biometric authentication in large units and within a representative sample.

    In contrast with press coverage, we find that this reform did not significantly or substantially reduce legitimate beneficiaries access’ to benefits on average, though it did raise transaction costs slightly. In (instructive) contrast with our own work elsewhere, however, we also find little evidence that better authentication reduced leakage.


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    Associate Professor, University of Virginia

    Sandip Sukhtankar is an associate professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Virginia. His research interests lie at the intersection of development, political economy, and public economics, with a focus on corruption and governance issues. Most of his field work is based in India.

  • DIME is a World Bank-wide program to generate knowledge on the effectiveness of development policies. Working across 18 thematic areas, DIME collaborates with 300 agencies in 72 countries to improve the effectiveness of policies and programs and strengthen country capacity for real-time evidence-based policy-making. More »