Journal Article

Does Ignoring Heterogeneity in Impacts Distort Project Appraisals? An Experiment for Irrigation in Vietnam

Dominique van de Walle and Dileni Gunewardena

in The World Bank Economic Review

Published on behalf of World Bank

Volume 15, issue 1, pages 141-164
Published in print June 2001 | ISSN: 0258-6770
Published online June 2001 | e-ISSN: 1564-698X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/wber/15.1.141
Does Ignoring Heterogeneity in Impacts Distort Project Appraisals? An Experiment for Irrigation in Vietnam

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Could the simplifying assumptions made in project appraisal be so far from the truth that the expected benefits of public investments are not realized? Using data for Vietnam, commonly used estimates of the benefits from irrigation investments based on means are compared with impacts assessed through an econometric modeling of marginal returns that allows for household and area heterogeneity using integrated household‐level survey data. The simpler method performs well in estimating average benefits nationally but can be misleading for some regions, and, by ignoring heterogeneity, it overestimates gains to the poor and underestimates gains to the rich. At moderate to high cost levels, ignoring heterogeneity in impacts results in enough mistakes to eliminate the net benefits from public investment. When irrigating as little as 3 percent of Vietnam's nonirrigated land, the savings from the more data‐intensive method are sufficient to cover the full cost of the extra data required, ignoring other benefits from that data.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Development Planning and Policy

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