Umapathi, Nithin

Social Protection and Labor Global Practice, World Bank
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Social assistance, Energy subsidies, Social insurance, Labor markets, Income transfers
Social Protection and Labor Global Practice, World Bank
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Last updated January 31, 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 46 Scopus

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Now showing 1 - 4 of 4
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    Eligibility Thresholds for Minimum Living Guarantee Programs : International Practices and Implications for China
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-11) Umapathi, Nithin ; Wang, Dewen ; O'Keefe, Philip
    Using a simple framework, this paper discusses the underlying reason of the variation of threshold level in developed countries, from the least generous 20 percent to around 60 percent of median wage, with an average of 35 percent. The generosity of minimum guarantee social assistance programs is deeply rooted in social values and principles that further underpin the policy objectives. Many Organizations for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries set their policy targets for minimum living standard programs beyond basic needs and aim to guarantee a minimum socially acceptable level for a decent living. Thresholds are also refined to reflect the differences in family size and demographic structure, difference in regional cost of living and changes in prices and local wages. In some countries the thresholds show some regional variation due to local discretionary powers of sub-national authorities to set the threshold depending on the co-financing mechanisms. These lessons are valuable for China as the Chinese government has made efforts to standardize the implementation and management of its own minimum income guarantee (Di Bao) programs. The policy recommendations for China include accelerating the convergence of localized approaches, raising the administrative level for setting thresholds to higher level, defining the roles of central and local governments in financing and management, and establishing a transparent budgetary management system to transfer and allocate social assistance funds.
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    Any Guarantees? China's Rural Minimum Living Standard Guarantee Program
    (World Bank Group, Washington, DC, 2014-08) Golan, Jennifer ; Sicular, Terry ; Umapathi, Nithin
    This paper examines China's rural minimum living standard guarantee (dibao) program, one of the largest targeted transfer schemes in the world. Using household survey data matched with published administrative data, the authors provide background on the patterns of inequality and poverty in rural China, describe the dibao program, estimate the program's impact on poverty, and carry out targeting analysis. The authors find that the program provides sufficient income to poor beneficiaries but does not substantially reduce the overall level of poverty, in part because the number of beneficiaries is small relative to the number of poor. Conventional targeting analysis reveals rather large inclusionary and exclusionary targeting errors; propensity score targeting analysis yields smaller but still large targeting errors. Simulations of possible reforms to the dibao program indicate that expanding coverage can potentially yield greater poverty reduction than increasing transfer amounts. In addition, replacing locally diverse dibao lines with a nationally uniform dibao threshold can in theory reduce poverty. The potential gains in poverty reduction, however, depend on the effectiveness of targeting.
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    Macroeconomic Implications of Aging in East Asia Pacific: Demography, Labor Markets and Productivity
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-08-08) Flochel, Thomas ; Ikeda, Yuki ; Moroz, Harry ; Umapathi, Nithin
    This background paper was prepared for the East Asia Pacific aging report. The East Asia and Pacific region grew at an unparalleled rate in the past 50 years. This economic boom is partly attributable to unprecedented demographic changes in East Asia during this period. But demographics are only part of the story. The size of the economic bonus or burden which results from population aging depends on how policy influences labor force participation, savings, human capital accumulation and total factor productivity.
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    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.