Özler, Berk

Development Research Group
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Poverty and inequality, Social Protection, Gender, Maternal and Child Health
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Last updated August 22, 2023
Berk Özler is a lead economist in the Development Research Group, Poverty Cluster. He received his B.Sc. in Mathematics from Bosphorous University in 1991, and his Ph.D in Economics from Cornell University in 2001. After working on poverty and inequality measurement, poverty mapping, and the 2006 World Development Report on Equity and Development earlier, he decided to combine his interests in cash transfer programs and HIV risks facing young women in Africa by designing a field experiment in Malawi. He has since been involved in a number of cluster-randomized field experiments. He is a co-founder of and a regular contributor to the Development Impact blog.
Citations 237 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 2 of 2
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    The Regressive Demands of Demand-Driven Development
    ( 2011-11-01) Baird, Sarah ; McIntosh, Craig ; Ozler, Berk
    Despite their explicit focus on reaching the poor, many community driven development (CDD) projects have been found to be only mildly pro-poor in their funding allocations. This paper presents evidence of an explanation that has been overlooked in the CDD literature to date: the requirement that beneficiaries must apply for projects in order to receive support. The authors first examine data on the universe of project applications and funding under Tanzania's flagship CDD program, Tanzania's Social Action Fund, and then use a census of 100 program villages to examine the determinants of both program awareness and program participation at the household level. The data paint a consistent picture at both levels: wealth, access to information, and political capital are important correlates of the ability to navigate the application process successfully. The centrally dictated features of this decentralized program appear to be the most effective mechanisms in directing funds to the poor. The results suggest that unless demand-driven projects can develop ways of soliciting engagement from a broader cross-section of the population, they are unlikely to achieve truly progressive targeting.
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    Asset Transfers and Anti-Poverty Programs: Experimental Evidence from Tanzania
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-12) Baird, Sarah ; McIntosh, Craig ; Özler, Berk ; Pape, Utz
    This paper uses a set of randomized experiments to examine the impact of a group business development program implemented by the Tanzanian government, along with a set of complementary training and cash transfer interventions targeted to vulnerable households in rural areas. In contrast with much of the recent literature, the analysis finds little effect of the business development program. While most enterprises remain operative three years after formation, even the highest estimates of effective wage rates suggest returns roughly equivalent to the opportunity cost of time for these households. Trainings on business skills and group transparency did not improve outcomes, although they appear to have exerted a redistributive effect from group elites to rank and file members. Unconditional and unanticipated lump sum cash transfers to randomly selected members of these groups induce all members to invest more in the enterprise, with seemingly little to no return on these marginal investments. The results emphasize the importance of profitability as the key motivation for asset transfer–based social protection programs.