Competition in Kenyan Markets and its Impact on Income and Poverty: A Case Study on Sugar and Maize

44 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

Date Written: January 1, 2015


This paper investigates the link between competitive, well-functioning food markets and consumer welfare. The paper explores two key food markets in Kenya -- sugar and maize -- and argues that a variety of factors conspire to distort market prices upward. Distortionary factors include import tariff policy, nontariff barriers, potential anticompetitive conduct by firms, and direct state intervention in markets. Changes in sugar and maize prices are shown to have significant welfare effects on consumers. Equivalent income effects are estimated using the most recent available representative household survey data -- the Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey 2005/06. The paper shows that relaxing trade barriers to allow sugar prices to fall by 20 percent could reduce poverty by 1.5 percent. Similarly, adjusting government interventions in the maize market, which have been shown to inflate maize prices by 20 percent on average, could reduce poverty by 1.8 percent. The magnitude of the estimated income effects may vary based on updated household-level consumption data, assumptions regarding demand elasticities, and estimates of import parity prices for these staples. However, in all the scenarios, more competitive prices have a larger average effect on the poorest households in urban and rural areas, supporting the relevance of effective competition policies for poverty reduction strategies.

Keywords: International Trade and Trade Rules

Suggested Citation

Argent, Jonathan and Begazo, Tania, Competition in Kenyan Markets and its Impact on Income and Poverty: A Case Study on Sugar and Maize (January 1, 2015). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 7179. Available at SSRN:

Jonathan Argent (Contact Author)

World Bank Group ( email )

PO Box 30577-00100
Menengai Road

Tania Begazo

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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