Has Rural Infrastructure Rehabilitation in Georgia Helped the Poor?
World Bank Economic Review
This article proposes a research strategy to deal with the scarcity of data on beneficiaries for conducting impact assessments of community-level projects. Community-level panel data from a regular household survey augmented with a special community module are used to measure the impact of projects. Propensity score-matched differencein-difference comparisons are used to control for time-invariant unobservable factors. This methodology takes into consideration the purposeful placement of
... placement of projects and their interactions at the community level. This empirical approach is applied to infrastructure rehabilitation projects-for schools, roads, and water supply systems-in rural Georgia between 1998 and 2001. The analysis produces plausible results regarding the size of welfare gains from a particular project at the village level and allows for differentiation of benefits between the poor and the nonpoor. The findings of this study can contribute to evaluations of the impact of infrastructure interventions on poverty by bringing new empirical evidence to bear on the welfare and equity implications. A frequent problem in evaluating the impact of projects in developing economies is the lack of data. A further complication is the increasing number of projects that target communities rather than individuals and rely on demanddriven placement, requiring special evaluation techniques and good-quality data to obtain robust results. Despite these difficulties, researchers are often called on to provide ex post assessments of a project's impact. This article develops a strategy for meeting such requests with minimum data. Interest in evaluating the effectiveness of community-based infrastructure projects has grown in response to the increasing popularity of such programs.