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When winners feel like losers : evidence from an energy subsidy reform

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  • Calvo-Gonzalez,Oscar
  • Cunha,Barbara
  • Trezzi,Riccardo

Abstract

In 2011 the Government of El Salvador implemented a reform to the gas subsidy that increased the welfare of households in all but the top two deciles of the income distribution. However, the reform turned out to be rather unpopular, especially among winners. This paper relies on ad hoc household surveys conducted before the implementation and in the following two and a half years to test which factors help explain the puzzle. The analysis uses probit and logit models to show that misinformation (a negativity bias by which people with limited information inferred negative consequences), mistrust of the government?s ability to implement the policy, and political priors explain most of the (un)satisfaction before implementation. Perceptions improved gradually?and significantly so?over time when the subsidy reception induced households to update their initial priors, although political biases remained significant throughout the entire period. The results suggest several implications with respect to policy reforms in cases where agents have limited information.

Suggested Citation

  • Calvo-Gonzalez,Oscar & Cunha,Barbara & Trezzi,Riccardo, 2015. "When winners feel like losers : evidence from an energy subsidy reform," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7265, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:7265
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sweder J. G. van Wijnbergen & Tim Willems, 2016. "Learning Dynamics and Support for Economic Reforms: Why Good News Can Be Bad," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 30(1), pages 1-23.
    2. Edward L. Glaeser & Cass R. Sunstein, 2013. "Why Does Balanced News Produce Unbalanced Views?," NBER Working Papers 18975, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Veldkamp, Laura, 2009. "Learning about reform: Time-varying support for structural adjustment," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 192-206, March.
    4. Sanjay Jain & Sharun W. Mukand, 2003. "Redistributive Promises and the Adoption of Economic Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 256-264, March.
    5. Maria Vagliasindi, 2013. "Implementing Energy Subsidy Reforms : Evidence from Developing Countries," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 11965, December.
    6. Fernandez, Raquel & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1146-1155, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Omotosho, Babatunde S., 2020. "Oil price shocks, fuel subsidies and macroeconomic (in)stability in Nigeria," MPRA Paper 105464, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Jun Rentschler & Morgan Bazilian, 2017. "Policy Monitor—Principles for Designing Effective Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reforms," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 11(1), pages 138-155.
    3. Troncoso, Karin & Soares da Silva, Agnes, 2017. "LPG fuel subsidies in Latin America and the use of solid fuels to cook," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 188-196.
    4. Cecile Couharde & Sara Mouhoud, 2020. "Fossil Fuel Subsidies, Income Inequality, And Poverty: Evidence From Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(5), pages 981-1006, December.
    5. Neil McCulloch, 2017. "Energy subsidies, international aid, and the politics of reform," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2017-174, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    6. Stephane Hallegatte & Mook Bangalore & Laura Bonzanigo & Marianne Fay & Tamaro Kane & Ulf Narloch & Julie Rozenberg & David Treguer & Adrien Vogt-Schilb, 2016. "Shock Waves," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 22787, December.
    7. Neil McCulloch, 2017. "Energy subsidies, international aid, and the politics of reform," WIDER Working Paper Series 174, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic Theory&Research; E-Business; Children and Youth; Technology Industry; Taxation&Subsidies;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • O54 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean

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