How can Food Subsidies Work Better? Answers from India and the Philippines
Asian Development Bank
Indian Statistical Institute
September 1, 2010
Asian Development Bank Economics Working Paper Series No. 221
This study explores the outcomes of food subsidies to the poor in the case of India and the Philippines. Both countries operate in-kind food subsidy programs with similar mandates, commonalities in functioning, and substantial budgetary outlays. The goal of the study is to quantify the gains to the poor from an additional unit of public spending on food subsidies. We find the expected income impacts on the poor are not more than 5% of incremental spending in either country. Part of the reason for such a low impact is poor participation in the program. But equally, it is also the case that the share of the poor in the total food subsidy is small. The reason why the poor receive such small shares is not just poor targeting. The main factor is program waste (due to fraud and excess costs). Such waste accounts for as much as 71% of the total public spending.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 35
Keywords: Public Spending, Food Subsidy, Targeting, Leakage, Program Waste, India, Philippines
JEL Classification: D12, H23, I38
Date posted: December 8, 2010
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