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Poverty-Decreasing Indirect Tax Reforms: Evidence from Tunisia

  • Sami Bibi
  • Jean-Yves Duclos

This paper suggests a methodology to identify socially-desirable directions for poverty-alleviating tax reforms. The cost-benefit ratio of increasing any commodity-tax rate is derived from the minimization of a poverty measure subject to a revenue requirement for the government. Further, to avoid the arbitrariness of choosing a poverty line and a poverty measure, the search for a poverty-reducing tax reform is done "robustly", among other things by increasing progressively the ethical content of a pre-defined class of poverty measures. The methodology is illustrated using data from Tunisia. The results suggest that poverty could be dropped for a large class of poverty indices and a wide range of poverty lines by raising -at constant fiscal revenue- the subsidy rate on hard wheat and mixed oils and by decreasing the one on sugar and milk.

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Paper provided by CIRPEE in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 0403.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:0403
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  1. Jean-Yves Duclos & Philippe Gregoire, 2001. "Absolute and Relative Deprivation and the Measurement of Poverty," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 477.01, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  2. Richard Adams, 1998. "The political economy of the food subsidy system in Bangladesh," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(1), pages 66-88.
  3. Yitzhaki, Shlomo & Lewis, Jeffrey D, 1996. "Guidelines on Searching for a Dalton-Improving Tax Reform: An Illustration with Data from Indonesia," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 541-62, September.
  4. Takayama, Noriyuki, 1979. "Poverty, Income Inequality, and Their Measures: Professor Sen's Axiomatic Approach Reconsidered," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(3), pages 747-59, May.
  5. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521265638 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Ubbarao, K. & Ahmed, A.U. & Teklu, T., 1996. "Selected Social Safety Net Programs in the Philippines. Targeting, Cost Effectiveness, and option for Reform," World Bank - Discussion Papers 317, World Bank.
  7. Bourguignon, Francois & Fields, Gary, 1997. "Discontinuous losses from poverty, generalized P[alpha] measures, and optimal transfers to the poor," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 155-175, January.
  8. Diamond, P. A., 1975. "A many-person Ramsey tax rule," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 335-342, November.
  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. Zheng, Buhong, 2000. " Poverty Orderings," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(4), pages 427-66, September.
  11. L. Wade, 1988. "Review," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 58(1), pages 99-100, July.
  12. Sami Bibi & Jean-Yves Duclos, 2004. "Equity and Policy Effectiveness with Imperfect Targeting," Working Papers 0423, Economic Research Forum, revised Oct 2004.
  13. Sen, Amartya K, 1976. "Poverty: An Ordinal Approach to Measurement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(2), pages 219-31, March.
  14. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
  15. Alderman, Harold, 2002. "Subsidies as a social safety net: effectiveness and challenges," Social Protection Discussion Papers 25299, The World Bank.
  16. Adams, Richard H., 2000. "Self-targeted subsidies - the distributional impact of the Egyptian food subsidy system," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2322, The World Bank.
  17. Deaton, A. & Grimard, F., 1992. "Demand Analysis and Tax Reform in Pakistan," Papers 85, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
  18. Blakorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1980. "Ethical Indices for the Measurement of Poverty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 1053-60, May.
  19. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521397421 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Duclos, Jean-Yves & Makdissi, Paul & Wodon, Quentin, 2002. "Socially-Efficient Tax Reforms," Cahiers de recherche 0201, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
  21. Foster, James E & Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1988. "Poverty Orderings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 173-77, January.
  22. Pitt, Mark M., 1985. "Equity, externalities and energy subsidies The case of kerosine in Indonesia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 201-217, April.
  23. Zheng, Buhong, 1997. " Aggregate Poverty Measures," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(2), pages 123-62, June.
  24. Deepa Narayan & Patti Petesch, 2002. "Voices of the Poor : From Many Lands," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14053, September.
  25. Feldstein, Martin S, 1972. "Distributional Equity and the Optimal Structure of Public Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(1), pages 32-36, March.
  26. Kakwani, Nanak, 1980. "On a Class of Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(2), pages 437-46, March.
  27. Atkinson, A B, 1987. "On the Measurement of Poverty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 749-64, July.
  28. Shlomo Yitzhaki & Joel Slemrod, 1987. "Welfare Dominance: An Application to Commodity Taxation," NBER Working Papers 2451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. James Banks & Richard Blundell & Arthur Lewbel, 1997. "Quadratic Engel Curves And Consumer Demand," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(4), pages 527-539, November.
  30. King, Mervyn A., 1983. "Welfare analysis of tax reforms using household data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 183-214, July.
  31. Deaton, Angus, 1990. "Price elasticities from survey data : Extensions and Indonesian results," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 281-309, June.
  32. Hagenaars, Aldi J M, 1987. "A Class of Poverty Indices," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(3), pages 583-607, October.
  33. Ahmad, Ehtisham & Stern, Nicholas, 1984. "The theory of reform and indian indirect taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 259-298, December.
  34. Ravallion, Martin & van de Walle, Dominique, 1991. "The impact on poverty of food pricing reforms: A welfare analysis for Indonesia," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 281-299.
  35. David Coady & Margaret Grosh & John Hoddinott, 2004. "Targeting of Transfers in Developing Countries : Review of Lessons and Experience," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14902, September.
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