IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Self-targeted subsidies - the distributional impact of the Egyptian food subsidy system

Listed author(s):
  • Adams, Richard H.

The Egyptian food subsidy system is an untargeted system that is essentially open to all Egyptians. For this reason, the budgetary costs of this system have been high, and the ability of this system to improve the welfare status of the poor has been questioned. Since the food riots of 1977, Egyptian policymakers have been reluctant to make large changes in their food subsidy system. Rather, their strategy has been to reduce the costs, and coverage of this system gradually. For example, since 1980 policymakers have reduced the number of subsidized foods from 20 to just four. Despite these cutbacks, the author uses new 1997 household survey data to show that the Egyptian food subsidy system IS self-targeted to the poor, because it subsidizes"inferior"goods. In urban Egypt, for instance, the main subsidized food - coarse baladi bread - is consumed more by the poor (the lowest quintile group of the population) than by the rich (the highest quintile). So subsidizing baladi bread is a good way of improving the welfare status of the urban poor. Bur in rural Egypt, where the poor do not consume so much baladi bread, the poor receive less in income transfers than the rich. In many countries, administrative targeting of food subsidies can do a better job of targeting the poor than self-targeting systems. In Jamaica, for example, poor people get food stamps at health clinics, so the Jamaican poor receive double the income transfers from food subsidies than the Egyptian poor receive. Bur starting a comparable system in Egypt, would be costly both in financial, and political terms, because many non-poor households currently receiving food subsidies would have to be excluded. For these reasons, it is likely that the government will continue to refine the present food subsidy system, perhaps by eliminating current subsidies on sugar or edible oil. Neither of these foods is an"inferior"good, so eliminating these subsidies will have only a minimal impact on the welfare status of the poor.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2322.

in new window

Date of creation: 30 Apr 2000
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2322
Contact details of provider: Postal:
1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20433

Phone: (202) 477-1234
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2322. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.