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The Impact of Taxes and Social Spending on Inequality and Poverty in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay: An Overview

Author

Listed:
  • Nora Lustig

    () (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

  • Carola Pessino

    () (School of Government and Executive Director, Centro de Investigaciones y Evaluación en Economía Social para el Alivio de la Pobreza, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Buenos Aires, Argentina)

  • John Scott

    () (CIDE (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas), Mexico and,Consejero Académico, CONEVAL (Consejo Nacional de Evaluación de la Política de Desarrollo Social), Mexico)

Abstract

How much redistribution and poverty reduction is being accomplished in Latin America through social spending and taxes? Standard fiscal incidence analyses applied to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay yield the following results. Direct taxes and cash transfers reduce inequality and poverty by nontrivial amounts in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, less so in Mexico and relatively little in Bolivia and Peru. While direct taxes are progressive, the redistributive impact is small because direct taxes as a share of GDP are low. Cash transfers are quite progressive in absolute terms except in Bolivia where programs are not targeted to the poor. In Bolivia and Brazil, indirect taxes almost completely offset the poverty-reducing impact of cash transfers. In-kind transfers in education and health reduce inequality in all countries by considerably more than cash transfers.

Suggested Citation

  • Nora Lustig & Carola Pessino & John Scott, 2013. "The Impact of Taxes and Social Spending on Inequality and Poverty in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay: An Overview," Working Papers 1313, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1313
    as

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    File URL: http://econ.tulane.edu/RePEc/pdf/tul1313.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lustig, Nora & Lopez-Calva, Luis F. & Ortiz-Juarez, Eduardo, 2013. "Declining Inequality in Latin America in the 2000s: The Cases of Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 129-141.
    2. Nora Lustig & George Gray Molina & Sean Higgins & Miguel Jaramillo & Wilson Jimenez & Veronica Paz & Claudiney Pereira & Carola Pessino & John Scott & Ernesto Yanez, 2012. "The Impact of Taxes and Social Spending on Inequality and Poverty in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico and Peru: A Synthesis of Results," Working Papers 1216, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    3. Marisa Bucheli & Nora Lustig & Máximo Rossi & Florencia Amábile, 2014. "Social Spending, Taxes, and Income Redistribution in Uruguay," Public Finance Review, , vol. 42(3), pages 413-433, May.
    4. Nora Lustig & Carola Pessino, 2012. "Social Spending and Income Redistribution in Argentina During the 2000s: the Rising Role of Noncontributory Pensions," Working Papers 1221, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    5. Francisco H.G. Ferreira & Julian Messina & Jamele Rigolini & Luis-Felipe López-Calva & Maria Ana Lugo & Renos Vakis, 2013. "Economic Mobility and the Rise of the Latin American Middle Class
      [La movilidad económica y el crecimiento de la clase media en América Latina]
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    6. Nora Lustig & Sean Higgins, 2012. "Commitment to Equity Assessment (CEQ): Estimating the Incidence of Social Spending, Subsidies and Taxes Handbook," Working Papers 1219, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    7. Sean Higgins & Claudiney Pereira, 2014. "The Effects of Brazil’s Taxation and Social Spending on the Distribution of Household Income," Public Finance Review, , vol. 42(3), pages 346-367, May.
    8. Nora Lustig & Carola Pessino & John Scott, 2013. "The Impact of Taxes and Social Spending on Inequality and Poverty in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay: An Overview," Working Papers 1313, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    9. Adam Wagstaff, 2012. "Benefit‐incidence analysis: are government health expenditures more pro‐rich than we think?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(4), pages 351-366, April.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    fiscal incidence; inequality; poverty; taxes; social spending; Latin America;

    JEL classification:

    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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