Policy Evaluation by Revealed Preference: With an Application to Food Security

This project has been canceled. Despite being one of the world's fastest‐growing economies, India remains home to the largest number of malnourished people in the world, and its flagship food security scheme is plagued by leakages and inefficiencies. Yet rigorous comparative evidence on alternatives, and in particular on direct cash transfers, is lacking. Researchers plan to address three questions fundamental to understanding food policy in this setting: how a switch to cash transfers would affect nutrition, how it would affect beneficiary welfare, and whether beneficiaries would prefer it. The crux of the design is to offer randomly‐selected beneficiaries the choice of exchanging their status‐quo benefits for a fiscally equivalent amount of cash, delivered via a scalable electronic payment infrastructure already deployed by the government of Bihar. This design reduces the political risk of policy experimentation and also contributes directly to improved governance by empowering beneficiaries to directly “vote” on a key policy choice.

RFP Cycle:
Fall 2012
  • Full project