Social Indicators Research

, Volume 112, Issue 2, pp 447–475 | Cite as

Multidimensional Targeting: Identifying Beneficiaries of Conditional Cash Transfer Programs

  • Viviane AzevedoEmail author
  • Marcos Robles


Conditional cash transfer programs (CCTs) have two main objectives: reducing poverty and increasing the human capital of children. To reach these objectives, transfers are given to poor households conditioned on investments in their children’s education, health, and nutrition. Targeting mechanisms used by CCTs have been generally successful in identifying the income poor but have not fared as well in identifying households that under-invest in human capital. These mechanisms do not consider the multidimensional aspect of poverty, even when composite measures are used, as they do not capture each dimension-specific deprivation. This paper proposes a multidimensional targeting approach to identifying beneficiaries that explicitly takes into consideration the multiple objectives of CCTs and the multiple deprivations of the poor household. Results indicate that the proposed multidimensional targeting methodology significantly improves the selection of households with children who are most deprived in the dimensions often relevant to CCTs. In the case of Mexico’s Oportunidades, ex-ante evaluation results indicate that the multidimensional identification of beneficiaries increases the impact of transfers on school attendance compared to alternative targeting models.


Conditional transfers Ex-ante evaluation Targeting Multidimensional poverty Mexico 



This paper contains many of the observations and suggestions made at the Oportunidades working meetings held in 2008 and 2009 at the Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, D.C.; the 2009 workshop “Multidimensional Measures in Six Contexts” held at the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative, University of Oxford; and at the 2010 conference “Ten Years of War against Poverty” at Manchester University. The authors also received comments from Sabina Alkire, Maria Emma Santos, Concepción Steta, Amanda Glassman, Carlos Sobrado, and Cesar Bouillon. The findings and conclusions, however, are entirely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inter-American Development Bank or the Oportunidades program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research DepartmentInter-American Development BankWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Social SectorInter-American Development BankWashingtonUSA

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