Designing and Implementing Household Targeting Systems: Lessons from Latin America and the United States

While targeting can effectively channel resources to the poor, implementation details matter tremendously to distributive outcomes. This report conducts an in-depth assessment of key design and implementation factors and their potential impact on outcomes for household targeting systems in six countries (the United States, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico). Several key factors affect performance, including: data collection processes; information management; household assessment mechanisms; institutional arrangements; and monitoring and oversight mechanisms. Chile's system performs impressively in terms of targeting outcomes, cost efficiency and transparency. Brazil and Mexico's systems perform well in terms of targeting and cost efficiency. The registries in the United States perform extremely well in terms of maximizing targeting accuracy and transparency, but the system is costly and errors of exclusion are high. Both Colombia and Brazil are currently undertaking to implement significant reforms to strengthen their registries, particularly for cost efficiency, which should improve their performance over time.