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Patrick Petit, Mario Mansour, and Mr. Philippe Wingender
Fighting the obesity epidemic has so far proven a difficult challenge, given the diversity of natural and processed foods, the complexity of food supply chains, and the fact that targeting excessive caloric consumption is far trickier than reducing overall consumption (as for tobacco). Nevertheless, efforts to curb caloric intake are gearing up and the experience from tobacco control has drawn much attention on a potential role for excise taxes in fighting obesity. Many related questions have therefore been raised as part of the IMF’s capacity development work: Should excises on unhealthy food be used to fight obesity? If so, under what conditions? What are the product and market characteristics that would help identify the relevant tax bases and the rates at which to tax them? While acknowledging that the scientific evidence keeps evolving, this note summarizes the ongoing debate and practice on food excises and on their potential role as a policy tool to fight the obesity epidemic, with a view to assist policymakers in deciding whether to go forward, and if so, how.How to Apply Excise Taxes to Fight Obesity
Michal Brzoza-Brzezina, Marcin Kolasa, and Krzysztof Makarski
We study the macroeconomic effects of the COVID-19 epidemic in a quantitative dynamic general equilibrium setup with nominal rigidities. We evaluate various containment policies and show that they allow to dramatically reduce the welfare cost of the disease. Then we investigate the role that monetary policy, in its capacity to manage aggregate demand, should play during the epidemic. According to our results, treating the observed output contraction as a standard recession leads to overly expansionary policy. Finally, we check how central banks should resolve the trade-off between stabilizing the economy and containing the epidemic. If no administrative restrictions are in place, the second motive prevails and, despite the deep recession, optimal monetary policy is in fact contractionary. Conversely, if sufficient containment measures are introduced, central bank interventions should be expansionary and help stabilize economic activity.
Mr. Francesco Grigoli and José M. Mota
The large economic costs of full-blown lockdowns in response to COVID-19 outbreaks, coupled with heterogeneous mortality rates across age groups, led to question non-discriminatory containment measures. In this paper we provide an assessment of the targeted approach to containment. We propose a SIR-macro model that allows for heterogeneous agents in terms of mortality rates and contact rates, and in which the government optimally bans people from working. We find that under a targeted policy, the optimal containment reaches a larger portion of the population than under a blanket policy and is held in place for longer. Compared to a blanket policy, a targeted approach results in a smaller death count. Yet, it is not a panacea: the recession is larger under such approach as the containment policy applies to a larger fraction of people, remains in place for longer, and herd immunity is achieved later. Moreover, we find that increased interactions between low- and high-risk individuals effectively reduce the benefits of a targeted approach to containment.
Nicoletta Batini, Ian W.H. Parry, and Mr. Philippe Wingender
Denmark has a highly ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 70 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. While there is general agreement that carbon pricing should be the centerpiece of Denmark’s mitigation strategy, pricing needs to be effective, address equity and leakage concerns, and be reinforced by additional measures at the sectoral level. The strategy Denmark develops can be a good prototype for others to follow. This paper discusses mechanisms to scale up domestic carbon pricing, compensate households, and possibly combine pricing with a border carbon adjustment. It also recommends the use of revenue-neutral feebate schemes to strengthen mitigation incentives, particularly for transportation and agriculture, fisheries and forestry, though these schemes could also be applied more widely.
Nicoletta Batini
France is the top agricultural producer in the European Union (EU), and agriculture plays a prominent role in the country’s foreign trade and intermediate exchanges. Reflecting production volumes and methods, the sector, however, also generates significant negative environmental and public health externalities. Recent model simulations show that a well-designed shift in production and consumption to make the former sustainable and align the latter with recommended values can curb these considerably and generate large macroeconomic gains. I propose a policy toolkit in line with the government’s existing sectoral policies that can support this transition.
Andinet Woldemichael, Daniel Gurara, and Abebe Shimeles
Achieving universal health coverage, including financial risk protection and access to quality essential health-care services, is one of the main Sustainable Development Goals. In low-income countries, innovative and affordable health financing systems are key to realize these goals. This paper assesses the impacts of Community-Based Health Insurance Scheme in Rwanda on health-related financial risks using a nationally representative household survey data collected over a ten-year period. We find that the scheme significantly reduce annual per capita out-of-pocket spending by about 3,600 Rwandan Franc (about US$12) or about 83 percent of average per capita healthcare expenditure compared to the baseline level in 2000.The impacts however favor the rich as compared to the poor. The program also reduces the incidence of catastrophic healthcare spending significantly.
Patrick Petit and Mr. Janos Nagy
Taxing tobacco can help raise much needed revenue and save lives, but it needs to be done well. This “How-to” note provides guidance on the basics of tobacco taxation. How high should tobacco taxes be? Should we use ad valorem or specific taxes? What are the key elements of an efficient tax administration that will secure the tax base and prevent illegal trade? These are important questions that need to be addressed and this note provide a sound first step towards solid policy decisions.
Mr. Hamid Faruqee
This paper develops an overlapping agents model with age-specific mortality rates. The analytical framework also nests Blanchard's (1985) "perpetual youth" model as a special, though perhaps not realistic, case. With age specific mortality rates, youth is "fleeting." Using standard hyperbolic functions, the model with fleeting youth is able to closely replicate the empirical relation between age and mortality. The comparative implications for deficit finance are also examined and age-specific mortality is shown to alter the non-Ricardian properties of the model.
Mr. David E. Sahn and Mr. Stephen D. Younger
This paper examines the progressivity of social sector expenditures and taxes in eight sub-Saharan African countries. It uses dominance tests to determine whether health and education expenditures redistribute resources to the poor. The paper finds that social services are poorly targeted. Among the services examined, primary education tends to be most progressive, and university education is least progressive. The paper finds that many taxes are progressive as well as efficient, including some broad-based taxes such as the VAT and wage taxation. Taxes on kerosene and exports appear to be the only examples of regressive taxes.