How pro-poor and progressive is social spending in Zambia ?
This paper analyzes the distributional effect of public spending in Zambia using the most recent data from the 2010 Living Conditions Monitoring Survey. The analysis focuses on both the"traditional"social sectors, such as education and public healthcare, as well as other spending areas less thoroughly studied, such as agricultural support programs. Ultimately, this benefit incidence analysis addresses the extent to which spending is pro-poor and progressive; that is, it primarily benefits the poor and does so at an increasing rate as welfare levels decrease. The results indicate that overall public education spending in Zambia is neither pro-poor nor progressive, but while this is true for the system as a whole it is not true for all of its parts. The net unitary benefits of primary and secondary education are clearly both pro-poor and progressive. However, their progressivity is ultimately outweighed by the extreme concentration of tertiary education benefits among the wealthiest members of Zambian society. Health spending is also regressive and not pro-poor. Although unitary net benefits are slightly progressive, unequal access remains the key constraint. In contrast, the benefits of agricultural-input subsidy programs follow a somewhat progressive pattern (for each beneficiary in the top quintile there are almost two beneficiaries in the poorest quintile) but clearly suffer from targeting problems. Consequently, without better-designed and more conscientiously implemented targeting mechanisms, public spending on health, education, and fertilizers will not be able to further the government's larger objectives for pro-poor and progressive development policy.
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