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.
This paper uses a partial equilibrium framework to evaluate the relative efficiency, distributional and revenue implications of rice tariffs and targeted transfers in Madagascar, especially in the context of identifying their respective roles for poverty alleviation. Although there are likely to be substantial efficiency gains from tariff reductions, these accrue mainly to higher income households. In addition, poor net rice sellers will lose from lower tariffs. Developing a system of well designed and implemented targeted direct transfers to poor households is thus likely to be a substantially more costeffective approach to poverty alleviation. Such an approach should be financed by switching revenue raising from rice tariffs to more efficient tax instruments. These policy conclusions are likely to be robust to the incorporation of general equilibrium considerations.