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Fiscal Redistribution In Middle Income Countries:: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru and South Africa


  • Nora Lustig

    (Tulane University)


This paper examines the redistributive impact of fiscal policy for Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru and South Africa using comparable fiscal incidence analysis with data from around 2010. The largest redistributive effect is in South Africa and the smallest in Indonesia. Success in fiscal redistribution is driven primarily by redistributive effort (share of social spending to GDP in each country) and the extent to which transfers/subsidies are targeted to the poor and direct taxes targeted to the rich. While fiscal policy always reduces inequality, this is not the case with poverty. Fiscal policy increases poverty in Brazil and Colombia (over and above market income poverty) due to high consumption taxes on basic goods. The marginal contribution of direct taxes, direct transfers and in-kind transfers is always equalizing. The marginal effect of net indirect taxes is unequalizing in Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia and South Africa. Total spending on education is pro-poor except for Indonesia, where it is neutral in absolute terms. Health spending is pro-poor in Brazil, Chile, Colombia and South Africa, roughly neutral in absolute terms in Mexico, and not pro-poor in Indonesia and Peru. Ce document de travail examine l’impact redistributif des politiques budgétaires au Brésil, au Chili, en Colombie, en Indonésie, au Mexique, au Pérou et en Afrique du Sud en utilisant la technique d’analyse d’incidence sur des données aux alentours de l’année 2010. L’impact de la redistribution est le plus important en Afrique du Sud, et le plus faible en Indonésie. La performance de la redistribution est principalement déterminée par l’effort redistributif (part de la dépense sociale dans le PIB de chaque pays) et par la mesure dans laquelle les taxes et transferts sont ciblés vers les plus pauvres et les impôts directs vers les plus riches. Les politiques budgétaires réduisent systématiquement les inégalités, mais pas la pauvreté. La dépense publique augmente la pauvreté au Brésil, en Colombie (au-delà même de la pauvreté mesurée avant redistribution) à cause de la forte taxation des biens élémentaires. L‘impact marginal des taxes directes, des transferts directs et des transferts en nature a toujours un impact progressif. L’impact marginal des taxes indirectes est régressif au Brésil, en Colombie, en Indonésie et en Afrique du Sud. Les dépenses totales d’éducation sont plus favorables aux pauvres, sauf en Indonésie, où elles sont neutres en termes absolus. Les dépenses de santé sont plus favorables aux pauvres au Brésil, au Chili, en Colombie et en Afrique du Sud, globalement neutres en termes absolus et favorables aux pauvres en Indonésie et au Pérou.

Suggested Citation

  • Nora Lustig, 2015. "Fiscal Redistribution In Middle Income Countries:: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru and South Africa," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 171, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:elsaab:171-en

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    More about this item


    developing countries; inequality; social spending;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

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