Global Practice on Poverty and Equity, The World Bank
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Fields of Specialization
Fiscal incidence analysis, Poverty and social impact, Economic and social mobility, Informality, Distributional analysis, Public finance, Inequality, Development economics
Global Practice on Poverty and Equity, The World Bank
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Last updated July 12, 2023
Gabriela Inchauste is a Lead Economist in the Poverty and Equity Global Practice of the World Bank. She currently leads work on Fiscal and Social Policies for poverty reduction and shared prosperity. Her research interests revolve around the distributional impact of fiscal policy, ex-ante analysis of the distributional impacts of policy reforms, and understanding the channels through which economic growth improves labor market opportunities for poverty reduction. Prior to joining the Bank, she worked at the International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank where she contributed to operational and analytical activities in a number of countries covering topics such as macroeconomic forecasting, public expenditure policy, poverty and social impact analysis, fiscal and debt sustainability analysis, post-disaster needs assessments, and subsidy reform.She has published articles in academic volumes and journals on fiscal policy in low-income countries, decentralization, the distributional impacts of taxes and social spending, macroeconomic shocks and the poor, the informal sector, and the role of remittances in developing countries. A Bolivian national, she holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 11
Publication(World Bank Group, Washington, DC, 2015-02) Inchauste, Gabriela ; Lustig, Nora ; Maboshe, Mashekwa ; Purfield, Catriona ; Woolard, IngridThis paper uses the 2010/11 Income and Expenditure Survey for South Africa to analyze the progressivity of the main tax and social spending programs and quantify their impact on poverty and inequality. The paper also assesses the redistributive effectiveness of fiscal interventions given the resources used. Because it applies the Commitment to Equity methodology, the results for South Africa can be compared with other middle-income countries for which the framework has also been applied. The main results are twofold. First, the burden of taxes -- namely the personal income tax, the value added tax, excises on alcohol and tobacco, and the fuel levy -- falls on the richest in South Africa and social spending results in sizable increases in the incomes of the poor. In other words, for the components examined, the tax and social spending system is overall progressive. Second, for these elements, fiscal policy in South Africa achieves appreciable reductions in income inequality and poverty. Moreover, these reductions are the largest achieved in the emerging market countries that have so far been included in the Commitment to Equity project. Although fiscal policy is equalizing and poverty-reducing, the levels of inequality and poverty that remain still rank among the highest in middle-income countries. Looking ahead, as South Africa grapples with slow economic growth, a high fiscal deficit, and a rising debt burden, addressing the twin challenges of high inequality and poverty will require not only much improved quality of public services, but also higher and more inclusive economic growth.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-10) Ceriani, Lidia ; Inchauste, Gabriela ; Olivieri, SergioThis paper quantifies the contributions to poverty reduction observed in Sri Lanka between 2002 and 2012/13. The methods adopted for the analysis generate entire counterfactual distributions to account for the contributions of demographics, labor, and non-labor incomes in explaining poverty reduction. The findings show that the most important contributor to poverty reduction was growth in labor income, stemming from an increase in the returns to salaried nonfarm workers and higher returns to self-employed farm workers. Although some of this increase in earnings may point to improvements in productivity, defined as higher units of output per worker, some of it may simply reflect increases in food and commodity prices, which have increased the marginal revenue product of labor. To the extent that there have been no increases in the volumes being produced, the observed changes in poverty are vulnerable to reversals if commodity prices were to decline significantly. Finally, although private transfers (domestic and foreign) helped to reduce poverty over the period, public transfers were not as effective. In particular, the reduction in the real value of transfers of the Samurdhi program during 2002 to 2012/13 slowed down poverty reduction.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2017-03-07) Inchauste, Gabriela ; Victor, David G. ; Inchauste, Gabriela ; Victor, David G. ; Addo, Sheila ; Bazilian, Morgan ; Beaton, Christopher ; Gallina, Andrea ; Mansur, Yusuf ; Oguah, Sanuel ; Sánchez, Miguel Eduardo ; Serajuddin, Umar ; Wai-Poi, MatthewThis book proposes a simple framework for understanding the political economy of subsidy reform and applies it to four in-depth country studies covering more than 30 distinct episodes of reform. Five key lessons emerge. First, energy subsidies often follow a life cycle, beginning as a way to stabilize prices and reduce exposure to price volatility for low-income consumers. However, as they grow in size and political power, they become entrenched. Second, subsidy reform strategies vary because the underlying political economy problems vary. When benefits are concentrated, satisfying or isolating) interest groups with alternative policies is an important condition for effective reform. When benefits are diffuse, it can be much harder to identify and manage the political coalition needed for reform. Third, governments vary in their administrative and political capacities to implement difficult energy subsidy reforms. Fourth, improvements in social protection systems are often critical to the success of reforms because they make it possible to target assistance to those most in need. Finally, the most interesting cases involve governments that take a strategic approach to the challenges of political economy. In these settings, fixing energy subsidies is central to the governments’ missions of retaining political power and reorganizing how the government delivers benefits to the population. These cases are examples of “reform engineering,” where governments actively seek to create the capacity to implement alternative policies, depoliticize tariffs, and build credibility around alternative policies. The most successful reforms involve active efforts by policy leaders to identify the political forces supporting energy subsidies and redirect or inoculate them.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-11-01) Inchauste, Gabriela ; Karver, Jonathan ; Kim, Yeon Soo ; Abdel Jelil, MohamedThe availability and affordability of decent housing has become an important economic and social concern in the European Union (EU), as housing price increases in metropolitan regions have often outpaced wage increases. Housing is at the heart of growing economic divides in Europe. This is because productivity growth, which comes with higher wages and better jobs, is concentrated in cities and industrial clusters. Housing is unaffordable in metropolitan centers because the construction of new homes has not kept up with demand, reducing the standard of living of low-income households, and dissuading workers from moving to the most productive regions. While policy incentives have favored homeowners since the 1970s, less attention and resources have been devoted to easing the potential barriers and market restrictions that would allow housing supply to respond to increases in demand. Across EU member states, policymakers should focus on ensuring that land use, rental and other regulations are consistent with incentives to spur residential construction. The report highlights three key recommendations for EU policymakers: earmark unused public land for housing development and speed up approval processes; invest in greenfield projects with improved transportation links from suburban areas, to ensure cities cast a wider economic net; and create public registries to improve transparency of house sale prices to help greater competition between areas.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-12) Gao, Jia ; Inchauste, GabrielaMicrosimulation modelling has become a powerful tool to analyze the effects of fiscal policy changes. The World Bank’s Equity Policy Lab (EPL) has developed a customizable microsimulation tool to assess the distributional effects of tax, benefits, and other fiscal reforms. This Note explains why and how countries use the microsimulation tools, using examples from Ecuador and Armenia—2 of the more than 20 countries that have developed and used the tool over the past 2 years—to demonstrate its effectiveness in engaging government officials and informing policy making.
Energy Subsidy Reform Assessment Framework: Assessing the Political Economy of Energy Subsidies to Support Policy Reform Operations(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-06-30) Inchauste, Gabriela ; Victor, David G. ; Schiffer, EvaThis note comes in three sections. First, the information required for political economy analysis of energy subsidy reforms is presented. Second, a summary is given of the information that can usually be obtained through desk research to provide the context for subsequent interviews and another field research. Third, information that probably requires interviews and field data collection is provided. The ultimate audience of the proposed types of analysis lies with policy reformers themselves and with external development and policy institutions that are seeking to help governments adopt more sustainable reforms. However, the direct audience for this note are those commissioning political economy analysis of energy subsidies, and technocrats, researchers, and advisers to policy makers carrying out the analysis. Often, a team made up of sector experts and political economy experts will provide a greater depth of analysis. Significant attention is devoted here to the origins and operation of existing subsidies since that history conditions what is possible for the adoption and sustainability of future reforms. The main interest and audience for this note is forward-looking, people and institutions who need to understand what is politically possible and how to realign political forces around successful reform. The authors are mindful that this role is perhaps different from other more technocratic roles of agencies and institutions focused on technical analysis and thus they also devote some attention to the processes needed to obtain and manage sensitive information and political insights since mismanagement in that realm can, itself, affect the political prospects for reform and harm the standing of reform agents in the process. In contrast to desk research or analysis of existing datasets, field research on political economy will always be an intervention in the local system, which needs to be managed well to increase and not decrease the space for reform and coalition building.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-08) Goraus, Karolina ; Inchauste, GabrielaThis paper assesses the impact of fiscal policy on the incidence, depth, and severity of poverty, and examines whether there is room for an increased role for fiscal policy in improving the wellbeing of the poor. The results show that the combined effect of taxes and social spending helped substantially to reduce poverty and inequality in Poland in 2014, in line with other European Union countries, with most of the reduction largely being achieved by pensions. However, in cash terms, households beginning in the second decile were net payers to the treasury in 2014, as the share of taxes paid exceeded the cash benefits received for all but the poorest 10 percent of the population. Although the Polish fiscal system in 2014 had the capacity to redistribute, it had a relatively weak capacity to reduce poverty given the resources at its disposal, and this was especially true for families with children. Microsimulations of the introduction of the Family 500+ program in 2016 show the redistributive and poverty reduction impacts of the new program, even after taking into account the potential increase in indirect taxes. Finally, alternative reforms of the tax-free allowance are considered, and estimates of their likely impact on poverty, inequality, and the potential fiscal cost are presented. The simulations show that there are potential efficiency gains from further targeting each of these new initiatives.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-09) Inchauste, Gabriela ; Rubil, IvicaThis paper describes the impact of fiscal policy on inequality and poverty, and examines recent policy changes and whether there is room for an increased role for fiscal policy in improving the well-being of the poor. Taxes and social spending reduced inequality in Croatia; however, once the impacts of indirect taxes are considered, the system is unable to reduce poverty, especially for families with children and retirees. Beginning in the second decile, households are net payers to the treasury, as the share of taxes paid exceeded the cash benefits received for all but the poorest 10 percent of the population. Microsimulations of recent tax changes find that inequality after taxes and transfers is expected to increase slightly in 2017, as most of the benefits of the reform were concentrated at the top of the distribution. Although the impact of lower value-added taxes on electricity and utility bills is expected to be slightly poverty reducing, this effect is small relative to the relief that is needed. A reduction in the standard value-added tax rate from 25 to 24 percent would result in a small decline in poverty and inequality. However, the impact may be much smaller, depending on how this measure would be financed.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-08) Inchauste, Gabriela ; Militaru, EvaThe combined effect of taxes and social spending in Romania helps to reduce inequality, although less so than in other European Union countries. However, the combination of direct and indirect taxes and transfers leads to an increase in poverty, as direct cash transfers to poor households are not large enough to compensate them for the burden of indirect taxes. This is especially important for rural households and families with children. Moreover, recent reductions in the rates for personal income and value-added taxes are expected to have led to an increase in inequality, as most of the tax relief accrued to the top of the income distribution. Although these changes likely helped to reduce poverty, they were an expensive way to achieve a small decline in the poverty rate. Higher and better targeted social assistance spending could have achieved better distributional results at a much lower fiscal cost. These results call for greater use of simulation tools that could inform policy makers and the public of the fiscal costs and redistributive impacts of proposed reforms.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2017-08-24) Inchauste, Gabriela ; Lustig, Nora ; Inchauste, Gabriela ; Lustig, NoraThe World Bank has partnered with the Commitment to Equity Institute at Tulane University to implement their diagnostic tool—the Commitment to Equity (CEQ) Assessment—designed to assess how taxation and public expenditures affect income inequality, poverty, and different economic groups. The approach relies on comprehensive fiscal incidence analysis, which measures the contribution of each individual intervention to poverty and inequality reduction as well as the combined impact of taxes and social spending. The CEQ Assessment provide an evidence base upon which alternative reform options can be analyzed. The use of a common methodology makes the results comparable across countries. This volume presents eight country studies that examine the distributional effects of individual programs and policy measures—and the net effect of each country’s mix of policies and programs. These case studies were produced in the context of Bank policy dialogue and have since been used to propose alternative reform options.