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The Unequal Benefits of Fuel Subsidies Revisited; Evidence for Developing Countries


  • David Coady
  • Valentina Flamini
  • Louis Sears


Understanding who benefits from fuel price subsidies and the welfare impact of increasing fuel prices is key to designing, and gaining public support for, subsidy reform. This paper updates evidence for developing countries on the magnitude of the welfare impact of subsidy reform and its distribution across income groups, incorporating more recent studies and expanding the number of countries. These studies confirm that a very large share of benefits from price subsidies goes to high-income households, further reinforcing existing income inequalities. The results can also help to approximate the welfare impact of subsidy reform for countries where the data necessary for such an analysis is not available.

Suggested Citation

  • David Coady & Valentina Flamini & Louis Sears, 2015. "The Unequal Benefits of Fuel Subsidies Revisited; Evidence for Developing Countries," IMF Working Papers 15/250, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:15/250

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Arze del Granado, Francisco Javier & Coady, David & Gillingham, Robert, 2012. "The Unequal Benefits of Fuel Subsidies: A Review of Evidence for Developing Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(11), pages 2234-2248.
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    5. Victoria Monchuk, 2014. "Reducing Poverty and Investing in People : The New Role of Safety Nets in Africa
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    Cited by:

    1. Feng, Kuishuang & Hubacek, Klaus & Liu, Yu & Marchán, Estefanía & Vogt-Schilb, Adrien, 2018. "Managing the distributional effects of energy taxes and subsidy removal in Latin America and the Caribbean," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 225(C), pages 424-436.
    2. Peltovuori, Ville, 2017. "Fossil fuel subsidies in the Pacific island context: Analysis of the case of Kiribati," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 102-110.
    3. Jun E Rentschler & Nobuhiro Hosoe, 2017. "Illicit dealings: Fossil fuel subsidy reforms and the role of tax evasion and smuggling," GRIPS Discussion Papers 17-05, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
    4. Patrice Ollivaud, 2017. "Improving the allocation and efficiency of public spending in Indonesia," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1381, OECD Publishing.
    5. Selim Jahan, 2017. "Human Development Report 2016 - Human Development for Everyone," Working Papers id:12021, eSocialSciences.
    6. Rozenberg, Julie & Vogt-Schilb, Adrien & Hallegatte, Stephane, 2020. "Instrument choice and stranded assets in the transition to clean capital," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 100(C).
    7. Jon Jellema & Nora Lustig & Valentina Martinez Pabon, 2019. "Are Income Floors Viable In Sub-Saharan Africa?," Commitment to Equity (CEQ) Working Paper Series 86, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    8. Julie Rozenberg & Adrien Vogt-Schilb & Stephane Hallegatte, 2017. "Instrument Choice and Stranded Assets in the Transition to Clean Capital," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 98039, Inter-American Development Bank.
    9. Coady, David & Parry, Ian & Sears, Louis & Shang, Baoping, 2017. "How Large Are Global Fossil Fuel Subsidies?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 11-27.
    10. Harro van Asselt & Kati Kulovesi, 2017. "Seizing the opportunity: tackling fossil fuel subsidies under the UNFCCC," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 357-370, June.
    11. Breisinger, Clemens & Mukashov, Askar & Raouf, Mariam & Wiebelt, Manfred, 2019. "Energy subsidy reform for growth and equity in Egypt: The approach matters," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 661-671.
    12. Moerenhout, Tom S.H. & Sharma, Shruti & Urpelainen, Johannes, 2019. "Commercial and industrial consumers’ perspectives on electricity pricing reform: Evidence from India," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 162-171.
    13. Andualem Telaye Mengistu & Pablo Benitez & Seneshaw Tamru & Haileselassie Medhin & Michael Toman, 2019. "Exploring Carbon Pricing in Developing Countries: A Macroeconomic Analysis in Ethiopia," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(16), pages 1-21, August.
    14. Ian Coxhead & Corbett Grainger, 2018. "Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform in the Developing World: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why?," Asian Development Review, MIT Press, vol. 35(2), pages 180-203, September.
    15. Karanfil, Fatih & Omgba, Luc Désiré, 2019. "Do the IMF’s structural adjustment programs help reduce energy consumption and carbon intensity? Evidence from developing countries," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 312-323.

    More about this item


    Developing countries; Fuel subsidy reform; welfare impact; distribution; transport; fuel; subsidies; fuel prices; subsidy; Incidence; All Countries;

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