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Government Spending, Subsidies and Economic Efficiency in the GCC

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  • Raphael Espinoza

Abstract

Public investment and subsidies are typically inefficient but in the GCC these are crucial engines of growth. Subsidies are also used to redistribute oil windfalls in the region, and the problem of a government that wants to 'distribute' oil money is a problem fully symmetric to the one analyzed by Ramsey (1927) of optimal taxation. The second-best policy (when lump-sum transfers are not available) is to use subsidies across a wide range of goos (as opposed to the focus on energy chosen by the GCC). In addtion, the 'inverse' Ramsey model implies that commodities for which demand is least elastic to prices should be subsidized at higher rates. This suggests subsidizing basic needs at higher rates, in particular food, healthcare and education. In addition, when subsidies are very large, they create additional distortions because households prefer to queue for subsidies (e.g. public service jobs, subsidized mortgages in Saudi Arabia) rather than participate in private markets. As an example, we draw a model where recruitment of public servants can induce a large diincentive to take private sector positions and compute the conditions under which the disincentive is so strong that overall employment is actually decreased as public servants are being hired.

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Paper provided by Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford in its series OxCarre Working Papers with number 095.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:oxcrwp:095

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Keywords: Gulf Cooperation Council; Middle East and North Africa; Resource Curse;

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  1. Seale, James L., Jr. & Regmi, Anita & Bernstein, Jason, 2003. "International Evidence On Food Consumption Patterns," Technical Bulletins 33580, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  2. Dalia Hakura, 2004. "Growth in the Middle East and North Africa," IMF Working Papers 04/56, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Xavier Sala-i-Martin & Arvind Subramanian, 2003. "Addressing the Natural Resource Curse: An Illustration from Nigeria," NBER Working Papers 9804, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Zac Mills & Annette Kyobe & Jim Brumby & Chris Papageorgiou & Era Dabla-Norris, 2011. "Investing in Public Investment," IMF Working Papers 11/37, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Morrison, Kevin M., 2009. "Oil, Nontax Revenue, and the Redistributional Foundations of Regime Stability," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(01), pages 107-138, January.
  6. Al-Faris, Abdul Razak F., 2002. "The demand for electricity in the GCC countries," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 117-124, January.
  7. Gelb, A & Knight, John B & Sabot, R H, 1991. "Public Sector Employment, Rent Seeking and Economic Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(408), pages 1186-99, September.
  8. Narayan, Paresh Kumar & Smyth, Russell, 2007. "A panel cointegration analysis of the demand for oil in the Middle East," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(12), pages 6258-6265, December.
  9. Raphael Espinoza, 2012. "Factor Accumulation and the Determinants of TFP in the GCC," OxCarre Working Papers 094, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
  10. David Coady & Javier Arze del Granado, 2010. "The Unequal Benefits of Fuel Subsidies," IMF Working Papers 10/202, International Monetary Fund.
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Cited by:
  1. Alberto Behar & Junghwan Mok, 2013. "Does Public-Sector Employment Fully Crowd Out Private-Sector Employment?," IMF Working Papers 13/146, International Monetary Fund.

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