Evidence Based Family-Centric Welfare System (part 2 of quad-blog series)
Journey towards Effective Targeting and Delivery of Welfare Services
In this series of blogs, we will discuss the various approaches followed for identification and targeting of beneficiaries for the delivery of welfare and their respective merits and demerits. We will also discuss how moving from an individual centric welfare system to a family centric welfare system can make poverty alleviation interventions more effective as well as EasyGov’s solution to change the course of welfare delivery globally. In the previous blog of this series, we discussed various methodologies followed by the Indian government in identifying eligible beneficiaries, its merits and demerits. We also discussed the methodologies followed by other developing world countries including Proxy Mean Tests, a common beneficiary identification targeting methodology followed around the world.
In Part 2, we reveal to you EasyGov’s notion of Family Centric Welfare Services Delivery. What is Family Centric Welfare Services Delivery as compared to the Program Centric Welfare System followed by governments in India and the world? The potential “Evidence Based Family Centric Welfare System” Carries in not only finding the most required benefit for the family but also making efficient use of the government’s welfare budget.
Program-Centric Welfare Delivery System
“When governments deliver services based on the needs of the people they serve, they can increase public satisfaction and reduce costs.” In India the welfare delivery system is based on Program Centric Delivery i.e the benefits that are provided to the eligible beneficiaries are being driven by the schemes/programs. If a citizen fulfills the eligibility criteria for a particular welfare scheme, she/he becomes eligible beneficiary for the same. Let us first look at the concept of Program Centric Delivery through PM-KISAN.
PM-KISAN Samman Nidhi Program
Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) is a new Central Sector Scheme to provide income support to all landholding farmers’ families in the country to supplement their financial needs for procuring various inputs related to agriculture and allied activities as well as domestic needs.
Eligibility : All land holding eligible farmer families (subject to the prevalent exclusion criteria) are to avail of the benefits under this scheme. Benefit: Under the PM-KISAN scheme, all landholding farmers’ families shall be provided the financial benefit of Rs. 6000 per annum per family payable in three equal installments of Rs. 2000 each, every four months.
Thus, all those citizens of India who are fulfilling the eligibility criteria under PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi are the eligible beneficiaries that can avail the financial benefit of Rs. 6000 per annum per family.
PM Kisan is one of the hundreds of central sector, state sector and centrally sponsored schemes run by the governments in India. This Program Centric Welfare Delivery System is followed in deliverance of most of the welfare benefits by the governments in India. However, Program Centric Welfare Delivery System has the following limitations:
Benefits delivery are based on scheme specific eligibility : if a person satisfies the scheme eligibility criteria, he/she is eligible to get the benefit under the scheme.
The Benefit delivered may not be the most required benefit : the benefit deliverance under Program Centric Welfare Delivery is not based upon the requirement of the individual but under a generic welfare delivery system.
Non efficient utilisation of government’s resources : Deliverance of redundant benefits and wrong identification of beneficiary often leads to inefficient use of resources.
The basis of Program Centric Welfare Delivery is Individual Based : Individual Based Welfare Delivery can lead to repeated benefits to a single family.
To sum up the above mentioned limitations with Program Centric Welfare Delivery and the problem we face in beneficiary identification (as discussed in previous blog of this series), our main obstacles to efficient welfare delivery are:
Proper beneficiary identification: We need to find a better alternative to income certificates , SECC or proxy mean tests.
An Alternative to Program Centric Approach: Need to zero down to the most required benefit for an individual/family.
Financial Sustainability for Government : We need to maximize the impact of welfare programs and, at the same time ensure financial sustainability. Getting solutions to above 2 problems will lead to a financially sustainable welfare delivery.
EasyGov’s Solution: Informed decision-making with Family Centric Approach
It is essential to have processes and methodologies that allow us to evaluate welfare technologies in terms of their impact on welfare delivery, efficiency, budget and equity; in order to be able to make decisions based on evidence. A systematic use of evidence — that is, data and facts for decision making
Family Centric Welfare Delivery
The family-centric welfare delivery practice focuses on the family as a whole, and not just the individual for both beneficiary identification and required benefit delivery. It sees the whole family in the context of their socio-economic status. Image-1 provides a sample family profile.
Socioeconomic status (SES) scale is a measure of a family’s economic and social position in relation to others, based on various variables responsible for that like income, education, occupation, physical assets, social position, caste, etc.
There are many SES scales developed by researchers, some are good for rural communities but not for urban, some had considered limited determinants of SES and few were considering a number of similar determinants many times. Currently available scales are either outdated or there is a need to redefine and include much more relevant variables indicating the SES accurately. EasyGov redefined the SES scale to cater to the needs of our research and solution as pertaining to the Family Centric Welfare System. Image-2 shows our SES scaling for some of the socio-economic parameters.
With this socio-economic scale as well as the data collected for our socio-economic parameters, one can analyse it to further conduct informed decision making. Informed decision making is assisted by the use of evidence, and supported by data. It involves gathering a wide range of data on economic, financial, global integration, and social inclusion indicators among others.
However, it is necessary to keep in mind that the mere fact of accessing indicators and statistical information does not make us great decision makers. We must develop competencies to understand the data we have including the quality of the source, how the data was obtained, and what each of the data points accurately mean, and then develop a way to derive a solution out of it.
This evidence-based family centric welfare comes with the following advantages:
Help ensure that policies are responding to the real needs of the community, which in turn can lead to better outcomes for the population in the long term.
Reduce government spending that might otherwise be directed toward ineffective policies or programs that could be costly and time-consuming.
Emphasize the urgency of an issue or problem that requires immediate attention. This is important in obtaining funds and resources for the policy to be developed, implemented and maintained.
Allow sharing information among other members of the public sector regarding which policies have or have not worked. This can improve the decision-making process.
Ensure that decisions are made in a way that is consistent with our democratic processes,which are characterised by transparency and accountability.
In modern times and with the growing digitalization of all kinds of human activities, it becomes even more imperative to know how to take advantage of new types of data generated by technologies. With artificial intelligence and the appearance of machine learning, computers and other intelligent devices also act as decision-makers, based on the analysis of available data.
In the case of decision-making, an established algorithm will analyze the different alternatives proposed and make the most correct decision to reach the set goal according to its programming parameters. We must take advantage of these new technologies and data sources which can both improve (due to the quantity and the variety of the available data) and accelerate the data analysis and the decision-making process.
To be continued…
2. Evidence Based Decision Making in Public Health, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)