The Cost of Poverty Alleviation Transfer Programs: A Comparative Analysis of Three Programs in Latin America

Caldés, Natalia;
Coady, David;
Dec 2004
A common criticism of antipoverty programs is that the high share of administrative (nontransfer) costs substantially reduces their effectiveness. Yet there is surprisingly little rigorous empirical evidence on program costs. This study proposes and implements a replicable methodology for a comparative cost analysis of three similar poverty alleviation programs in Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua, and assesses their cost efficiency. The findings underscore that any credible assessment of cost-efficiency requires a detailed analysis of program cost structures that goes well beyond simply providing aggregate cost information.