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El impacto del sistema tributario y el gasto social en la distribución del ingreso y la pobreza en América Latina. Una aplicación del marco metodológico del proyecto Compromiso con la Equidad (CEQ)

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  • Lustig, Nora

    (Tulane University)

Abstract

Using standard fiscal incidence analysis and the new methodological developments by the Commitment to Equity (CEQ) Institute, this paper estimates the impact of fiscal policy on inequality and poverty in sixteen countries in Latin America around 2010. Methods: With information on incomes, consumption, and other dimensions available in household surveys, and knowledge about the characteristics of the fiscal system, the CEQ method consists in allocating to each individual the burden of personal income and consumption taxes, and the benefits from cash transfers, consumption subsidies, and government spending on education and health. This process yields the pre-fiscal and post-fiscal income concepts of interest. These income concepts, in turn, are used to calculate the corresponding indicators of inequality and poverty. Thus, one can estimate, for each country, the impact of the fiscal system and each of its components on inequality and poverty. Since the methodology that was applied is the same, results are comparable across countries. The countries that redistribute the most are Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Uruguay. Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru are the countries that redistribute the least. Fiscal policy reduces extreme (income) poverty in twelve out of the sixteen countries. The incidence of poverty after taxes, subsidies, and cash transfers, however, is higher than market income poverty in Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, even though fiscal policy reduces inequality in these four countries. Contributory pensions have a heterogeneous effect on inequality and, contrary to some expectations, their impact is equalizing in nine of the countries. In the sixteen countries, spending on pre-school and primary education is equalizing and pro-poor (per capita benefits decline with income per capita). Spending on secondary education is always equalizing; it is also pro-poor in some of the countries. Spending on tertiary education is never pro-poor but it is equalizing in all the countries except for Guatemala. Spending on health is always equalizing but pro-poor only in some countries. Conclusions: Latin America presents a great deal of heterogeneity in the size of the state and the countries’ capacity to use their fiscal power to reduce inequality and poverty. A higher share of social spending (to GDP) is associated with a larger redistributive effect but countries with similar, or even lower, shares of social spending show heterogeneous redistributive effects implying that other factors beyond size such as the composition and targeting of social spending (and taxes) are at play. It is important to emphasize that a higher redistributive effect is not necessarily a desirable outcome since in this article there is no estimation of the impact of redistributive policy on fiscal sustainability and efficiency. In some countries, the burden of consumption taxes is such that a portion of the poor are net payers into the fiscal system (before receiving “in kind” transfers in education and health). Governments should examine whether this undesirable effect could be avoided, or at least reduced, through an expansion of targeted cash transfers and/or reduction in the consumption taxes that are particularly burdensome for the poor.// Este artículo aplica el método de incidencia fiscal tradicional y los nuevos desarrollos del Instituto Compromiso con la Equidad (CEQ) para estimar el impacto de la política fiscal en la desigualdad y la pobreza en 16 países de América Latina alrededor del año 2010. A partir de la información disponible sobre ingresos y gastos y otras dimensiones en las encuestas de hogares y del conocimiento de las características del sistema fiscal, el método del CEQ consiste en asignar a cada individuo según corresponda la carga de los impuestos a la renta y al consumo, y los beneficios de las transferencias monetarias, los subsidios al consumo y el gasto en educación y salud. De esta manera, se construyen los diferentes conceptos de ingreso prefiscal y posfiscal, mismos que se utilizan para generar los correspondientes indicadores de desigualdad y pobreza. Esto permite estimar, para cada país, el impacto sobre la distribución del ingreso y la pobreza de cada componente del sistema fiscal, así como el del sistema en su conjunto. Como la metodología es común, los resultados se pueden comparar entre países. Los países que más redistribuyen son Argentina, Brasil, Costa Rica y Uruguay, y los que menos, Guatemala, Honduras y Perú. La política fiscal reduce la pobreza extrema (monetaria) en 12 de los 16 países. Sin embargo, la incidencia de la pobreza después de impuestos, subsidios y transferencias monetarias es mayor que la incidencia para el ingreso de mercado en Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras y Nicaragua, aun cuando en estos cuatro países la política fiscal sí reduce la desigualdad. El efecto de las pensiones contributivas sobre la desigualdad es heterogéneo y, contrariamente a lo que a veces se arguye, igualador en nueve países de la región. El gasto en educación preescolar y primaria es igualador y propobre (el beneficio por persona baja con el ingreso por persona) en todos los países. El gasto en educación secundaria es igualador en todos los países y también propobre en algunos. El gasto en educación terciaria nunca es propobre, pero es igualador en todos los países a excepción de Guatemala. El gasto en salud siempre es igualador pero es propobre solamente en algunos países. La región latinoamericana presenta una gran heterogeneidad en el tamaño del estado y en la capacidad de utilizar al fisco para reducir la desigualdad y la pobreza. A mayor gasto social (como proporción del PIB), mayor redistribución; pero países con un nivel de gasto social similar, o incluso menor, muestran diferentes niveles de redistribución lo cual sugiere que otros factores tales como la composición y focalización del gasto intervienen en determinar el efecto redistributivo más allá del tamaño del gasto. Es importante recalcar que mayor redistribución no necesariamente es siempre un resultado deseable, ya que en este trabajo no se estiman los efectos sobre la sostenibilidad fiscal y la eficiencia. En algunos países, el peso de los impuestos al consumo es tal que una proporción de la población pobre es pagadora neta al sistema fiscal (antes de recibir las transferencias ‘en especie’ en educación y salud). Los gobiernos deberían examinar si este efecto no deseable podría ser evitado, o por lo menos disminuido, mediante incrementos en las transferencias monetarias focalizadas o reducción de los impuestos al consumo que son particularmente onerosos para la población pobre.

Suggested Citation

  • Lustig, Nora, 2017. "El impacto del sistema tributario y el gasto social en la distribución del ingreso y la pobreza en América Latina. Una aplicación del marco metodológico del proyecto Compromiso con la Equidad (CEQ)," El Trimestre Económico, Fondo de Cultura Económica, vol. 0(335), pages .493-568, julio-sep.
  • Handle: RePEc:elt:journl:v:84:y:2017:i:334:p:493-568
    DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.20430/ete.v84i335.277
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    File URL: http://www.eltrimestreeconomico.com.mx/index.php/te/article/view/277/548
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cabrera, Maynor & Lustig, Nora & Morán, Hilcías E., 2015. "Fiscal Policy, Inequality, and the Ethnic Divide in Guatemala," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 263-279.
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    3. Linda Richardson & Herwig Immervoll, 2011. "Redistribution Policy and Inequality Reduction in OECD Countries: What Has Changed in Two Decades?," LIS Working papers 571, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
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    5. Ali Enami , Nora Lustig and Rodrigo Aranda, 2017. "Analytic Foundations: Measuring the Redistributive Impact of Taxes and Transfers - Working Paper 446," Working Papers 446, Center for Global Development.
    6. Miguel Jaramillo, 2014. "The Incidence of Social Spending and Taxes in Peru," Public Finance Review, , vol. 42(3), pages 391-412, May.
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    9. Lambert, Peter J, 1985. "On the Redistributive Effect of Taxes and Benefits," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 32(1), pages 39-54, February.
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    11. Karla Breceda & Jamele Rigolini & Jaime Saavedra, 2009. "Latin America and the Social Contract: Patterns of Social Spending and Taxation," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 35(4), pages 721-748.
    12. Herwig Immervoll & Linda Richardson, 2011. "Redistribution Policy and Inequality Reduction in OECD Countries: What Has Changed in Two Decades?," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 122, OECD Publishing.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jara Xavier & Oliva Nicolás & Arancibia Cristina & Dondo Mariana & Macas David & Riella Rebeca & Urraburu Joana & Rodriguez David, 2019. "Income redistribution in Latin America: A microsimulation approach," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2019-1, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. repec:idb:idbbks:9152 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Jara Xavier & Rodriguez David, 2019. "Financial disincentives to formal work: Evidence from Ecuador and Colombia," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2019-14, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    incidencia fiscal; desigualdad; pobreza; impuestos; transferencias; América Latina.;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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