This paper explores debates in social policy choices and whether such provisions ought to be guided by principles of 'universalism,' or more selectively through targeting. The author discusses the forces behind the shift from universalism toward selectivity in using social policies to combat poverty in the developing countries. He reviews lessons from such policies and considers the administrative difficulties of targeting in the poor countries. The paper focuses on the cost-effectiveness of poverty reduction efforts, the political economy bases of policy choices, and the consequences of policy choices for individual incentive
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