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Increasing public expenditure efficiency in oil-rich economies : a proposal


  • Devarajan, Shantayanan
  • Le, Tuan Minh
  • Raballand, Gael


This paper proposes that, to increase the efficiency of public spending in oil-rich economies, some or all of the oil revenues be transferred to citizens, and fiscal instruments such as taxation be used to finance public expenditures. The authors develop the case as follows. First, they confirm the well-known result that public-expenditure efficiency is lower in oil-rich countries compared with other developing countries. Second, they show that this efficiency gap is associated with differences in accountability to citizens of government's spending decisions. They find that various measures of accountability are systematically weaker in oil-rich countries. They attribute this difference to the fact that oil revenues typically accrue directly to the government, unlike tax revenues, which pass through the hands of citizens. Third, they show that, controlling for a number of factors, accountability is stronger in countries that rely more on direct taxation to finance public spending. They conclude that accountability, and hence public expenditure efficiency, can be increased by transferring oil revenues to citizens and then taxing them to finance public spending. The paper reviews existing schemes that redistribute oil revenues to the population, such as the Alaska Citizen Fund, to assess the feasibility of a modest proposal in African countries. The authors conclude that, while it may be difficult to implement such a proposal in existing oil producers, there is scope for introducing it in some of Africa's new oil producers.

Suggested Citation

  • Devarajan, Shantayanan & Le, Tuan Minh & Raballand, Gael, 2010. "Increasing public expenditure efficiency in oil-rich economies : a proposal," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5287, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5287

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    Cited by:

    1. Fahad Hassan Khan, 2014. "From revenues to democracy?," Departmental Working Papers 2014-25, The Australian National University, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics.
    2. Iman Cheratian & Mohammad Reza Farzanegan & Saleh Goltabar, 2019. "Oil Price Shocks and Unemployment Rate: New Evidence from the MENA Region," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201931, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    3. Lucas Marín-Llanes & Jaime Bonet-Morón & Gerson J. Pérez-Valbuena, 2018. "¿Cuál es la dimensión y en que se gastó la reciente bonanza en Colombia?," Documentos de Trabajo Sobre Economía Regional y Urbana 16808, Banco de la República, Economía Regional.
    4. Mohammad Reza Farzanegan & Marcel Thum, 2017. "Oil Dependency and Quality of Education: New Empirical Evidence," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201745, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    5. Larrú, José María, 2010. "Foreign Aid in Equatorial Guinea: Macroeconomic Features and Future Challenges," MPRA Paper 25001, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Mohammad Reza Farzanegan & Marcel Thum, 2020. "Does oil rents dependency reduce the quality of education?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 58(4), pages 1863-1911, April.
    7. Farzanegan, Mohammad Reza & Thum, Marcel, 2017. "More oil, less quality of education? New empirical evidence," CEPIE Working Papers 09/17, Technische Universität Dresden, Center of Public and International Economics (CEPIE).
    8. Eoin McGuirk, 2013. "The illusory leader: natural resources, taxation and accountability," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 154(3), pages 285-313, March.
    9. Iman Cheratian & Saleh Goltabar & Hassan Gholipour Fereidouni & Mohammad Reza Farzanegan, 2023. "External Financing and Firm Growth: Evidence from Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises in Iran," MAGKS Papers on Economics 202308, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    10. Cheratian, Iman & Goltabar, Saleh & Gholipour, Hassan F. & Farzanegan, Mohammad Reza, 2024. "Finance and sales growth at the firms level in Iran: Does type of spending matter?," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 67(PB).

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    Subnational Economic Development; National Governance; Public Sector Economics; Public Sector Expenditure Policy; DebtMarkets;
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