Targeting Beneficiaries

Leapfrogging

leapfroggingIn some of Sub-Saharan Africa’s CT programs, a major concern is that beneficiaries’ incomes will “leapfrog” over those of nonbeneficiaries. This issue is especially important when CTs are implemented in areas with a relatively flat income distribution. The size of a poverty-targeted transfer must be chosen carefully to ensure that it meets program goals but does not suddenly make beneficiaries substantially better off than nonbeneficiaries who had a similar standard of living before the CT. If the program fails to address this possibility, leapfrogging may generate significant social tension (Ellis 2008, as cited in Slater and Farrington 2010). This issue will not affect every country equally. In Malawi, only US$9 or US$10 per capita monthly divided the lowest income decile from the sixth income decile, highlighting the potential of transfers to cause significant leapfrogging. Care must also be taken when poverty targeting is accompanied by categorical targeting. For instance, although Malawi and Zambia target ultrapoor, labor-constrained households in their major CTs, ultrapoor households with available labor may be even worse off than labor-constrained households if employment is unavailable, given that ultrapoor households may need more calories per person than do labor-constrained households (Ellis 2008, as cited in Slater and Farrington 2010). Those issues suggest the importance of using analytical work to drive CT designs.