Evaluating the effectiveness of the rural minimum living standard guarantee (Dibao) programme in China

Nanak Kakwani, Shi Li, Xiaobing Wang, Mengbing Zhu


China’s rural minimum living standard guarantee programme (Dibao) is the largest social safety-net programme in the world. Given the scale and the popularity of rural Dibao, rigorous evaluation is needed to demonstrate the extent to which the programme meets its intended objective of reducing poverty. This paper develops new methods and uses data from the 2013 Chinese Household Income Project (CHIP2013) to examine the targeting performance of the rural Dibao programme. The paper has found that the rural Dibao programme suffers from very low targeting accuracy, high exclusion error, and inclusion error, and yields a significant negative social rate of return. It discusses possible causes and argues that the fundamental mechanism has to be redesigned to increase the effectiveness of the programme. The paper makes some recommendations to reform Dibao that will significantly improve targeting and reduce the cost of running the programme, thereby helping China to achieve its goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2020.


Dibao, policy effectiveness, poverty reduction, social rate of return


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