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Government Spending, Subsidies and Economic Efficiency in the GCC

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  • Raphael Espinoza

Abstract

Public investment and subsidies are typically inefficient but in the GCC these are crucial engines of growth. Subsidies are also used to redistribute oil windfalls in the region, and the problem of a government that wants to 'distribute' oil money is a problem fully symmetric to the one analyzed by Ramsey (1927) of optimal taxation. The second-best policy (when lump-sum transfers are not available) is to use subsidies across a wide range of goos (as opposed to the focus on energy chosen by the GCC). In addtion, the 'inverse' Ramsey model implies that commodities for which demand is least elastic to prices should be subsidized at higher rates. This suggests subsidizing basic needs at higher rates, in particular food, healthcare and education. In addition, when subsidies are very large, they create additional distortions because households prefer to queue for subsidies (e.g. public service jobs, subsidized mortgages in Saudi Arabia) rather than participate in private markets. As an example, we draw a model where recruitment of public servants can induce a large diincentive to take private sector positions and compute the conditions under which the disincentive is so strong that overall employment is actually decreased as public servants are being hired.

Suggested Citation

  • Raphael Espinoza, 2012. "Government Spending, Subsidies and Economic Efficiency in the GCC," OxCarre Working Papers 095, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:oxcrwp:095
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    File URL: http://www.oxcarre.ox.ac.uk/images/stories/papers/ResearchPapers/oxcarrerp201295.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Era Dabla-Norris & Jim Brumby & Annette Kyobe & Zac Mills & Chris Papageorgiou, 2012. "Investing in public investment: an index of public investment efficiency," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 235-266, September.
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    3. Xavier Sala-i-Martin & Arvind Subramanian, 2013. "Addressing the Natural Resource Curse: An Illustration from Nigeria," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 22(4), pages 570-615, August.
    4. Seale, James & Regmi, Anita & Bernstein, Jason, 2003. "International Evidence on Food Consumption Patterns," Technical Bulletins 184321, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    5. 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.
    6. Al-Faris, Abdul Razak F., 2002. "The demand for electricity in the GCC countries," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 117-124, January.
    7. Gelb, A & Knight, John B & Sabot, R H, 1991. "Public Sector Employment, Rent Seeking and Economic Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(408), pages 1186-1199, September.
    8. Morrison, Kevin M., 2009. "Oil, Nontax Revenue, and the Redistributional Foundations of Regime Stability," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(01), pages 107-138, January.
    9. Raphael Espinoza, 2012. "Factor Accumulation and the Determinants of TFP in the GCC," OxCarre Working Papers 094, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
    10. Dalia S Hakura, 2004. "Growth in the Middle East and North Africa," IMF Working Papers 04/56, International Monetary Fund.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alberto Behar & Junghwan Mok, 2013. "Does Public-Sector Employment Fully Crowd Out Private-Sector Employment?," CSAE Working Paper Series 2013-20, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gulf Cooperation Council; Middle East and North Africa; Resource Curse;

    JEL classification:

    • Q32 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Exhaustible Resources and Economic Development
    • Q38 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy (includes OPEC Policy)
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East

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