Dominique van de Walle

Center for Global Development
2055 L St., N.W.
Washington, DC 20036

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: World Bank

NBER Working Papers and Publications

May 2020Can the World’s Poor Protect Themselves from the New Coronavirus?
with Caitlin S. Brown, Martin Ravallion: w27200
We propose an index of the adequacy of home environments for protection (HEP) from COVID-19, and we compare our index across developing countries using data for one million sampled households from the latest Demographic and Health Surveys. We find that prevailing WHO recommendations for protection posit unrealistic home environments. 90% of households have inadequate HEP by one or more dimensions considered. 40% do not have a formal health-care facility within 5km. A strong wealth effect is indicated within and between countries. Only 6% of the poorest 40% have an adequate HEP, and the proportion is virtually zero in sub-Saharan Africa.
November 2017Are Poor Individuals Mainly Found in Poor Households? Evidence using Nutrition Data for Africa
with Caitlin S. Brown, Martin Ravallion: w24047
Antipoverty policies assume that targeting poor households suffices in reaching poor individuals. We question this assumption. Our comprehensive assessment for sub-Saharan Africa reveals that undernourished women and children are spread widely across the household wealth and consumption distributions. Roughly three-quarters of underweight women and undernourished children are not found in the poorest 20% of households, and around half are not found in the poorest 40%. Countries with higher undernutrition tend to have higher shares of undernourished individuals in non-poor households. The results are consistent with intra-household inequality but other factors also appear to be at work including common health risks.
December 2016A Poor Means Test? Econometric Targeting in Africa
with Caitlin Brown, Martin Ravallion: w22919
Proxy-means testing is a popular method of poverty targeting with imperfect information. In a now widely-used version, a regression for log consumption calibrates a proxy-means test score based on chosen covariates, which is then implemented for targeting out-of-sample. In this paper, the performance of various proxy-means testing methods is assessed using data for nine African countries. Standard proxy-means testing helps filter out the nonpoor, but excludes many poor people, thus diminishing the impact on poverty. Some methodological changes perform better, with a poverty-quantile method dominating in most cases. Even so, either a basic-income scheme or transfers using a simple demographic scorecard are found to do as well, or almost as well, in reducing poverty. However, even with a bud...

Published: Caitlin Brown & Martin Ravallion & Dominique van de Walle, 2018. "A poor means test? Econometric targeting in Africa," Journal of Development Economics, . citation courtesy of

NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us