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The Potential and Limitations of Self-Targeted Food Subsidies

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  • Alderman, Harold
  • Lindert, Kathy

Abstract

Can self-selection of subsidized commodities be used as a mechanism to transfer income to the poor? Evidence from two self-targeting programs, one in South Africa and one in Tunisia, shows that although self-targeting can clearly improve the distribution of food subsidies to the poorest members of society, its power to alleviate poverty and reduce income disparities is limited by preference patterns, income inequality, and the size of the individual subsidies. Self-targeting through quality and product differentiation can be a useful means to reform existing universal subsidy schemes, but it should be considered a transitional tool while the capacity for implementing more precise mechanisms is developed. Copyright 1998 by Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal World Bank Research Observer.

Volume (Year): 13 (1998)
Issue (Month): 2 (August)
Pages: 213-29

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Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:13:y:1998:i:2:p:213-29

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  1. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1991. "Public Provision of Private Goods and the Redistribution of Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 979-84, September.
  2. Ahmad,Etisham & Stern,Nicholas, 1991. "The Theory and Practice of Tax Reform in Developing Countries," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521265638, April.
  3. Anne Case & Angus Deaton, 1996. "Large Cash Transfers to the Elderly in South Africa," NBER Working Papers 5572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Sah, Raaj Kumar, 1983. "How much redistribution is possible through commodity taxes?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 89-101, February.
  5. Ravallion, Martin, 1991. "Reaching the Rural Poor through Public Employment: Arguments, Evidence, and Lessons from South Asia," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 6(2), pages 153-75, July.
  6. Nichols, Albert L & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1982. "Targeting Transfers through Restrictions on Recipients," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(2), pages 372-77, May.
  7. Alderman, Harold, 1987. "Allocation of goods through non-price mechanisms : Evidence on distribution by willingness to wait," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 105-124, February.
  8. Alderman, Harold & del Ninno, Carlo, 1999. "Poverty Issues for Zero Rating VAT in South Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 8(2), pages 182-208, July.
  9. Besley, Timothy J & Kanbur, S M Ravi, 1988. "Food Subsidies and Poverty Alleviation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(392), pages 701-19, September.
  10. Tuck, L. & Lindert, K., 1996. "From Universal Food Subsidies to a Self-Targeted Program: A Case Study in Tunisian Reform," World Bank - Discussion Papers 351, World Bank.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. World Bank, 2006. "Repositioning Nutrition as Central to Development : A Strategy for Large Scale Action," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7409, October.
  2. Mehta, Aashish & Jha, Shikha & Quising, Pilipinas, 2013. "Self-targeted food subsidies and voice: Evidence from the Philippines," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 204-217.
  3. World Bank, 2010. "Egypt, Arab Republic of - Food Subsidies : Benefit Incidence and Leakages," World Bank Other Operational Studies 2913, The World Bank.
  4. Muller, Christophe, 2007. "Anti-Poverty Transfers without Riots in Tunisia," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/4334, Paris Dauphine University.
  5. Stefan Dercon & Pramila Krishnan, 2003. "Food aid and informal insurance," CSAE Working Paper Series 2003-01, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  6. Bhaskar Dutta & Bharat Ramaswami, 2004. "Reforming Food Subsidy Schemes: Estimating the Gains from Self-targeting in India," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(2), pages 309-324, 05.
  7. Mehta, Aashish & Jha, Shikha, 2014. "Pilferage from opaque food subsidy programs: Theory and evidence," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 69-79.
  8. Violette, William J. & Harou, Aurélie P. & Upton, Joanna B. & Bell, Samuel D. & Barrett, Christopher B. & Gómez, Miguel I. & Lentz, Erin C., 2013. "Recipients’ Satisfaction with Locally Procured Food Aid Rations: Comparative Evidence from a Three Country Matched Survey," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 30-43.
  9. Pagiola, Stefano & Arcenas, Agustin & Platais, Gunars, 2005. "Can Payments for Environmental Services Help Reduce Poverty? An Exploration of the Issues and the Evidence to Date from Latin America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 237-253, February.
  10. Chandra Prakash Bhambhri & Parkash Chander, 2001. "Subsidy Reforms and Poverty Alleviation," IMF Working Papers 01/126, International Monetary Fund.
  11. Farrukh Iqbal, 2006. "Sustaining Gains in Poverty Reduction and Human Development in the Middle East and North Africa," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7048, October.
  12. Haddad, Lawrence & Ahmed, Akhter, 2003. "Chronic and Transitory Poverty: Evidence from Egypt, 1997-99," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 71-85, January.

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