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The political economy of food subsidy reform in Egypt


  • Gutner, Tammi


Egypt has a large food subsidy program that has created a relatively effective social safety net, but it has also drained budgetary resources and proved to be poorly targeted toward the poor. Discussions about reforming the system to improve its effectiveness have run into extreme political sensitivities surrounding the issue of food subsidies. Egypt, therefore, well illustrates the quandaries that policymakers and others contemplating food subsidy reform face in developing countries. This study examines the political economy of food subsidy reform in Egypt and discusses the economic and political advantages and disadvantages of nine possible reforms. The study concludes that the reforms that have the greatest chance of success are those that reduce the access of the wealthy while increasing the access of the truly needy, but the timing, sequence, and trade-offs of such reforms have to be taken into account before they are implemented.

Suggested Citation

  • Gutner, Tammi, 1999. "The political economy of food subsidy reform in Egypt," FCND discussion papers 77, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:fcnddp:77

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ahmed, Akhter U. & Gutner, Tamar & Lofgren, Hans & Bouis, Howarth E., 2001. "The Egyptian food subsidy system: structure, performance, and options for reform," Research reports 119, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Ali, Sonia M. & Adams, Richard Jr, 1996. "The Egyptian food subsidy system: Operation and effects on income distribution," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(11), pages 1777-1791, November.
    3. Scobie, Grant McDonald, 1981. "Government policy and food imports: the case of wheat in Egypt," Research reports 29, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    4. Alderman, Harold & von Braun, Joachim & Sakr, Sakr Ahmed, 1982. "Egypt's food subsidy and rationing system: a description," Research reports 34, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    5. Arvind Subramanian, 1997. "The Egyptian Stabilization Experience; An Analytical Retrospective," IMF Working Papers 97/105, International Monetary Fund.
    6. 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.
    7. Gutner, Tammi, 1999. "The political economy of Food subsidy reform in Egypt," FCND briefs 1, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    8. Datt, Gaurav & Jolliffe, Dean & Sharma, Manohar, 1998. "A profile of poverty in Egypt: 1997," FCND discussion papers 49, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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    1. repec:pit:wpaper:313 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Cassing, James & Nassar, Saad & Siam, Gamal & Moussa, Hoda, 2007. "Distortions to Agricultural Incentives in Egypt," Agricultural Distortions Working Paper 48511, World Bank.
    3. Bargawi Hannah, 2014. "Economic Policies, Structural Change and the Roots of the “Arab Spring” in Egypt," Review of Middle East Economics and Finance, De Gruyter, vol. 10(3), pages 1-28, December.
    4. Gutner, Tamar, 2002. "The political economy of food subsidy reform: the case of Egypt," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(5-6), pages 455-476.
    5. Wichelns, Dennis, 2001. "The role of `virtual water' in efforts to achieve food security and other national goals, with an example from Egypt," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 131-151, July.
    6. Ahmed, Akhter U. & Bouis, Howarth E., 2002. "Weighing what's practical: proxy means tests for targeting food subsidies in Egypt," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(5-6), pages 519-540.
    7. Krishna, Anirudh, 2007. "For Reducing Poverty Faster: Target Reasons Before People," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(11), pages 1947-1960, November.
    8. World Bank, 2013. "From Universal Price Subsidies to Modern Social Assistance : The Political Economy of Reform," World Bank Other Operational Studies 16723, The World Bank.

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    Subsidies Egypt. ; Welfare economics. ;


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