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What is wrong with the self-targeting of food aid?

Galtier F.. 2019. Bordeaux : SFER, p. 1-18. Journées de recherches en sciences sociales (JRSS 2019). 13, 2019-12-12/2019-12-13, Bordeaux (France).

Self-targeting (ST) is a method used to allocate social transfers to specific households. Its principle is very simple: transfers are proposed to all households in the community, but conditions are created to discourage households that are not in need from asking for them. Three modalities are used: low-quality food is distributed; queues are created intentionally when distributing food or cash; or a matching contribution in the form of work is required. Experts are usually enthusiastic about ST because it is proving to be much more cost-effective than classical targeting methods (T). However, some experts share the feeling that ¿there is something wrong with ST¿. This article provides the first systematic analysis of the ethical issues raised by ST. It assesses ST under a wide spectrum of ethics approaches (consequentialist and non-consequentialist ; objectivist and subjectivist), the counterfactuals being ¿no transfers¿ and ¿transfers targeted trough T¿. It appears that ST raises huge ethical issues. The potential implications for policies are far-reaching, since self-targeting is widely and increasingly used to channel emergency food aid and other social transfers.

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