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The Price Effect of Tariff Liberalization: Measuring the Impact on Household Welfare
2009, Nicita, Alessandro
Trade policy literature has for many years emphasized open policies positive impact on economic growth and development. While these results generally hold when measured on averages, empirical evidence suggests that trade liberalization is unlikely to produce beneficial results across all households. This study adds to the literature by providing an analysis of the distributive effects of tariff liberalization in Mexico. The paper examines the effect of tariff liberalization from the perspective of households both as consumers and factor owners allowing for imperfect domestic price transmission. The results indicate the overall positive effect of tariff liberalization masks significant differences in the distribution of gains both across income levels and across geographic regions. Richer households are found to have gained relatively more. Urban areas, as well as Mexican states closest to the United States border, are also found to be larger beneficiaries while southernmost states have been largely bypassed by the effects of tariff liberalization. Those results can be explained not only in relation to the different endowments of the households, but also by the diverse effects on local prices that has resulted from Mexican trade liberalization.
Price Elasticities and Tax Reform in Mexico
2008, Nicita, Alessandro
Price responses are usually estimated for the average household. However, different households are unlikely to respond in a similar way to movement in prices. Consequently, relying on averages may be misleading when examining the behaviour of a particular group of households such as the poor. This article uses six household surveys collected in Mexico between 1989 and 2000 to derive price responses for 10 product groups and for five levels of income households. The estimated price elasticities are then fed into a micro simulation model to measure the effect of a marginal tax reform. The results find that that poorer households tend to react substantially more to movement in prices, suggesting the usefulness of estimating elasticities that reflect the behavioural responses of the poor rather than of the entire population. The micro simulation results indicate that reducing the taxes on maize, alcoholic beverages and vegetables would be both more equitable and more efficient in terms of social welfare. Meanwhile, a reduction in the tax on legumes, sugar, and oils and fats, while inefficient, would contribute to reduce inequality.