Politics, public works and poverty: evidence from the bangladesh employment generation programme for the poorest

Ummul H. Ruthbah, Iffath Sharif

Research output: Working paperWorking PaperOther


Public works programs can be effective safety nets if they help allocate resources toward poor households. By setting wages lower than market rates public works programs identify poor households reasonably well. When these programs are oversubscribed and lack beneficiary selection rules however, discretion by local politicians can influence their distribution and their effectiveness as safety nets. This paper tests this hypothesis using household survey data on a seasonal public works program in Bangladesh. The results show access to local politicians is a significant determinant of participation, and can increase the relative probability of participation by 110 percent. Participation has a positive impact on food and nonfood consumption of poorer participants. The same is not true for
less poor participants. The results suggest rather than relying on local politicians, public works aiming to maximize their impact on poverty should rely on an objective and transparent targeting system that ensures participation
of larger numbers of poorer households.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationWashington DC USA
PublisherThe World Bank
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NamePolicy Research Working Paper

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