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Lifeline or Means-Testing? Electric Utility Subsidies in Honduras

Author

Listed:
  • Wodon, Quentin
  • Ajwad, Mohamed Ishan
  • Siaens, Corinne

Abstract

Many countries around the world have implemented subsidies for utility consumption, especially in the case of water and electricity. Most subsidies take the form of a lifeline or increasing block tariff, whereby households that consume less pay less on a unit basis. The idea is that households with low consumption levels are likely to be poor, and some intervention is warranted to enable them to meet their basic needs (the lifeline) at an affordable cost. Whether such subsidies are successful at helping the poor is not clear. In this chapter we assess the targeting performance of a similar subsidy for electricity implemented in Honduras. The subsidy is targeted through the lifeline principle; however, because the consumption threshold for eligibility is relatively high (300 kWh per month), and because those with access to electricity tend to be less poor than those without access, the program’s overall performance is low in terms of poverty reduction. Targeting through means-testing rather than a lifeline, or at least a lower threshold for the lifeline, could help improve the impact of the subsidy, and based on experience in other countries, would not necessarily imply high administrative costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Wodon, Quentin & Ajwad, Mohamed Ishan & Siaens, Corinne, 2003. "Lifeline or Means-Testing? Electric Utility Subsidies in Honduras," MPRA Paper 15419, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:15419
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/15419/1/MPRA_paper_15419.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Clert, Carine & Wodon, Quentin, 2002. "The Targeting of Government Programs in Chile: A Quantitative and Qualitative Assessment," MPRA Paper 15414, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Christiaensen, Luc & Scott, Christopher & Wodon, Quentin, 2002. "Poverty Measurement and Analysis," MPRA Paper 45362, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Antonio Estache & V. Foster & Q. Wodon, 2002. "Accounting for Poverty in Infrastructure Reform: Learning from Latin America's Experience," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/44108, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:enepol:v:109:y:2017:i:c:p:782-793 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:9:y:2007:i:4:p:1-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Blanca Moreno-Dodson & Quentin Wodon, 2008. "Public Finance for Poverty Reduction : Concepts and Case Studies from Africa and Latin America," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6881.
    4. Mónica Parra Torrado, 2011. "Infraestructura y pobreza: el caso de los servicios públicos en Colombia," WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 009065, FEDESARROLLO.
    5. Timothy Irwin, 2003. "Public Money for Private Infrastructure : Deciding When to Offer Guarantees, Output-based Subsidies, and Other Fiscal Support," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15117.
    6. He, Xiaoping & Reiner, David, 2016. "Electricity demand and basic needs: Empirical evidence from China's households," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 212-221.
    7. Angel-Urdinola, Diego & Wodon, Quentin, 2008. "Assessing the Targeting Performance of Social Programs: Cape Verde," MPRA Paper 11072, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Severin Borenstein, 2012. "The Redistributional Impact of Nonlinear Electricity Pricing," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 56-90, August.
    9. Gassmann, Franziska, 2014. "Switching the lights off: The impact of energy tariff increases on households in the Kyrgyz Republic," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 755-769.
    10. Komives, Kristin & Halpern, Jonathan & Foster, Vivien & Wodon, Quentin & Abdullah, Roohi, 2006. "The distributional incidence of residential water and electricity subsidies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3878, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Electricity subsidies; ROC curves; targeting;

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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