• C35;
  • H24;
  • I32
  • cash transfers;
  • pre/post-transfers poverty;
  • sample selection;
  • trivariate probit

We analyze the anti-poverty effect of social cash transfers using a micro-econometric approach. Aggregate analyses, based on comparing average poverty indicators before and after public transfers, fail to address who receives the transfers and how the transfers are distributed among the poor. We consider three dichotomous outcome variables: (i) poverty status before the receipt of transfers; (ii) the receipt of transfers; and (iii) poverty status after the receipt of transfers. We use a trivariate probit model with sample selection, connecting the outcome variables to the characteristics of the household and its head. Our empirical results highlight that the Italian social transfers system overprotects certain household typologies at the expense of others, as social transfers are primarily awarded to employees with permanent positions and the elderly, while the system is not generous enough to large households with dependant children, the self-employed, temporary contract workers, and the unemployed.