Umapathi, Nithin

Social Protection and Labor Global Practice, World Bank
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Fields of Specialization
Social assistance, Energy subsidies, Social insurance, Labor markets, Income transfers
Social Protection and Labor Global Practice, World Bank
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Last updated: October 11, 2023

Nithin Umapthai works on the welfare state design spanning the design of income transfers, social insurance, and labor market interventions. He co-authored the EAP flagship report on Aging in East Asia and Pacific and has written on wide-ranging topics, including on social protection, education, early childhood interventions, and econometrics of program evaluation. He has published in peer reviewed journals such as Journal of Applied Econometrics, World Development, Journal of Development Studies, Journal of African Economies, Journal of Development Effectiveness, Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies and Asia Pacific Viewpoint. Over the last few years he has been active in advisory and technical assistance roles in supporting energy subsidy reforms. 

Citations 49 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 2 of 2
  • Publication
    What Are the Benefits of Government Assistance with Household Energy Bills? Evidence from Ukraine
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-05) Alberini, Anna; Umapathi, Nithin
    In April 2015, the Government of Ukraine abruptly raised the tariffs of natural gas to residential customers, which were previously well below the cost of acquiring gas and delivering it to households. The tariff increase—700 percent—caused considerable distress to the population and led the government to scale up its existing energy assistance program, the housing and utilities subsidy program. This paper examines the welfare effect of the program and potential redesigns of the program. Using several waves of Ukraine’s Household Budget Survey, the analysis finds that electricity, gas, and fuels account for a considerable share of household income. After the tariff hike, the average household that did not receive the housing and utilities subsidy spends 11 percent of its income on electricity, gas, and fuels, implying that it meets the definition of “fuel poor.” The average share for households that do receive the subsidy is 6–8 percent. The housing and utilities subsidy cuts the rate of fuel poverty in half. It also brings considerable consumer surplus gains of 6–7 percent of income. This comes at a high price tag for the government, as the budget for the housing and utilities subsidy is 1–2.5 percent of gross domestic product. Considerable savings would be achieved with only a small loss of consumer surplus if the housing and utilities subsidy was cut in half. Linking the subsidy solely to income would also attain considerable savings, but at a high loss of welfare. The housing and utilities subsidy could also be paired with social tariffs, or an energy efficiency subsidy, with major savings for the government.
  • Publication
    Cash Transfers in the Context of Energy Subsidy Reform: Insights from Recent Experience
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-06-30) Mukherjee, Anit; Okamura, Yuko; Gentilini, Ugo; Gencer, Defne; Almenfi, Mohamed; Kryeziu, Adea; Montenegro, Miriam; Umapathi, Nithin
    Energy subsidies, which have a long history of use by governments around the world, have been rising in recent years after a brief period of decline. Despite their significant wider costs, subsidies are used by governments for various policy, and political, reasons. Faced with recent external shocks, governments around the world have had to manage difficult tradeoffs between the need to protect their citizens against substantial increases in the cost of living and the fiscal risks that greater and continued subsidies impose. General consumption subsidies, such as universal price subsidies for fossil fuels, tend to be regressive. Over the past several decades, as part of the evolving understanding of energy subsidy reforms, there has been growing recognition of the potential of targeted cash transfers to support the poor and vulnerable to help governments achieve desired policy outcomes at lower fiscal cost and in a sustainable manner. The use of cash transfers to mitigate the impact of price increases from an energy subsidy reform puts a country’s social protection framework in the spotlight, along with the role social protection can play in bolstering national commitments to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While getting prices right is important in eliminating distortions and incentivizing efficient use of energy, cash transfers can help countries mitigate and adapt to climate change and make the transition to a green economy by smoothing the adjustment to changing energy costs.