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Prabhat Jha, Joy de Beyer, and Peter S. Heller

For the latest thinking about the international financial system, monetary policy, economic development, poverty reduction, and other critical issues, subscribe to Finance & Development (F&D). This lively quarterly magazine brings you in-depth analyses of these and other subjects by the IMF’s own staff as well as by prominent international experts. Articles are written for lay readers who want to enrich their understanding of the workings of the global economy and the policies and activities of the IMF.

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.