Program participation in a targeted land distribution program and household outcomes: evidence from Vietnam

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The authors estimates whether a land reform program led to higher incomes for ethnic minority households. In 2002, in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, Program 132 directed the transfer of farm land to ethnic minority households that had less than one hectare of land. Using the 2002 Vietnam Household Living Standards Survey as a baseline, in 2008 the authors resurveyed over one-thousand households to provide a retrospective evaluation of the impact of their participation in Program 132. Contrary to official reports, the findings show that there was considerable deviation from the planned program parameters: many eligible households did not receive land, while ineligible households often did. The authors estimate that beneficiaries of the program in the province of Kon Tum experienced increases of household income largely in line with what one would expect from a small plot of poor farm land. Outside Kon Tum, where participation rates were substantially lower, the story is more mixed, and household incomes did not improve with program participation. Overall, the results underscore the limitations of simple transfers of land as a mechanism for improving the living standards of ethnic minorities. The results also show the significant gap that can exist between program design and decentralized implementation. The authors discuss the potential implications for program evaluation.

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Last updated May 6, 2020
Created May 6, 2020
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Name Program participation in a targeted land distribution program and household outcomes: evidence from Vietnam
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The authors estimates whether a land reform program led to higher incomes for ethnic minority households. In 2002, in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, Program 132 directed the transfer of farm land to ethnic minority households that had less than one hectare of land. Using the 2002 Vietnam Household Living Standards Survey as a baseline, in 2008 the authors resurveyed over one-thousand households to provide a retrospective evaluation of the impact of their participation in Program 132. Contrary to official reports, the findings show that there was considerable deviation from the planned program parameters: many eligible households did not receive land, while ineligible households often did. The authors estimate that beneficiaries of the program in the province of Kon Tum experienced increases of household income largely in line with what one would expect from a small plot of poor farm land. Outside Kon Tum, where participation rates were substantially lower, the story is more mixed, and household incomes did not improve with program participation. Overall, the results underscore the limitations of simple transfers of land as a mechanism for improving the living standards of ethnic minorities. The results also show the significant gap that can exist between program design and decentralized implementation. The authors discuss the potential implications for program evaluation.

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