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CEP/STICERD Applications Seminars

Food vs. Food Stamps: Evidence from an At-Scale Experiment in Indonesia

Rema Hanna (Harvard University), joint with Abhijit Banerjee, Benjamin Olken, Elan Satriawan & Sudarno Sumarto

Monday 07 March 2022 16:00 - 17:30

Many of our seminars and public events this year will continue as in person or as hybrid (online and in person) events. Please check our website listings and Twitter feed @STICERD_LSE for updates.

Unless otherwise specified, in-person seminars are open to the public.

Those unable to join the seminars in-person are welcome to participate via zoom if the event is hybrid.


About this event

Governments seeking to provide food assistance have a choice between providing in-kind food directly to beneficiaries, or providing vouchers that can be used to purchase food on the market. To understand the differences between these policies, the Government of Indonesia randomly phased in the transition from in-kind delivery of subsidized rice to approximately equivalent vouchers usable to buy rice and eggs across 105 districts comprising over 3.4 million beneficiary households. We find the transition led to substantial changes in the allocation of aid in practice. The vouchers provided concentrated assistance to targeted households, who received 45 percent more assistance in voucher areas than in in-kind districts. As a result, for households in the bottom 15 percent at baseline, poverty fell by 20 percent. Vouchers also allowed households to purchase higher-quality rice, and led to increased consumption of egg-based proteins. We find vouchers have little effect on aggregate rice prices, although we observe modest price increases in remote villages. Overall leakage from the program was not affected, but the administrative costs of benefits delivery substantially fell. In short, the results suggest that the change from in-kind food aid to vouchers led to substantial impacts on poverty through the way it changed how programs were implemented on the ground.

Applications (Applied Micro) Seminars are held on Mondays in term time at 16:00-17:30 ONLINE, or in meeting room 3.05 if the speaker attends in person.

Seminar organiser: Xavier Jaravel

For further information please contact Lubala Chibwe, either by email: l.chibwe@lse.ac.uk.

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