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Utilization of Social Indicators in Public Policy Evaluation. A Case Study in Agrarian Reform

Luiz Antônio Maciel de Paula and José Kléber Pereira

This study shows how program evaluation can be used to identify the level of social indicators and how they can be used to assess preliminary results that help to improve programs, and eventually evaluate their impacts, during the implementation of an agrarian reform program in Brazil.

Settlement's Human Development Index (SHDI) was applied based on the Human Development Index (HDI) calculated by United Nations Development Program, using indicators of income, education, and life expectancy. The case study was Sao Joaquim Settlement Project, located in the state of Ceara, Brazil. The calculated SHDI equals 0.406 and was greater than the index obtained by two neighbor counties, Madalena and Boa Viagem, and lower than the index in Quixeramobim County, where the settlement is located.

This analysis can be useful for improvement of programs and institutions, since those three indicators can be used to show important aspects in the settlement, such as the level of revenue from agricultural production, infrastructure, and social conditions. On one hand, they may show some deficiencies in the infrastructure of production that imposes the low level of income to the settlers.

These results allows shareholders and policymakers to question what has been done and what still needs to be done in order to improve settlers' income and reduce their dependence from the government. On the other hand, it is clear that in cases of education and health, the main results of the program should appear in the long run. However, considering that this settlement was established ten years ago, it was expected a better level of education, particularly because the agrarian reform program created schools, special courses for the teachers, and a program to reduce adult illiteracy. We hope that further studies will be able to investigate the actual causes of the low level of education. In terms of health, the indicator of life expectancy does not allow a deeper analysis. Perhaps other variables would present health conditions in the settlement more precisely.

Finally, we conclude that performance measurement based on social indicators is very useful for monitoring and evaluation of development programs.

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