Targeting Humanitarian Aid Using Administrative Data: Model Design and Validation - Economic Research Forum (ERF)

Targeting Humanitarian Aid Using Administrative Data: Model Design and Validation

Onur Altindag, Stephen D. O’Connell, Aytuğ Şaşmaz, Zeynep Balcıoğlu, Paola Cadoni, Matilda Jerneck and Aimee Kunze Foong

September, 2019


Economic Research Forum

I3. Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
O. Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth

We develop and assess the performance of an econometric targeting model for a large scale humanitarian aid program providing unconditional cash and food assistance to refugees in Lebanon. We use regularized linear regression to derive a prediction model for household expenditure based on demographic and background characteristics; from administrative data that are routinely collected by humanitarian agencies. Standard metrics of prediction accuracy suggest this approach compares favorably to the commonly used “scorecard” Proxy Means Test, which requires a survey of the entire target population. We confirm these results through a blind validation test performed on a random sample collected after the model derivation.

Research Fellows

Onur Altindag

Assistant Professor, Bentley University


Stephen D. O’Connell

Emory University Department of Economics and IZA Institute of Labor Economics


Aytuğ Şaşmaz

Harvard University Department of Government


Zeynep Balcıoğlu

Northeastern University Department of Political Science


Paola Cadoni

UNHCR Lebanon


Matilda Jerneck

UNHCR Lebanon


Aimee Kunze Foong

UNHCR Lebanon



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