Publication: Fiscal Policy Effects on Poverty and Inequality in Cambodia

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Karamba, Wendy
Myck, Michal
Trzcinski, Kajetan
Tong, Kimsun
This study assesses the short-term impact of fiscal policy, and its individual elements, on poverty and inequality in Cambodia as of 2019. It applies the Commitment to Equity methodology to data from the Cambodia Socio-economic Survey of 2019/20 and fiscal administrative data from various government ministries, departments, and agencies for the assessment. The study presents among the first empirical evidence on the impact of taxes and social spending on households in Cambodia. The study finds that: (i) Cambodia’s 2019 fiscal system reduces inequality by 0.95 Gini index points, with the largest reduction in inequality created by in-kind transfers from spending on primary education; (ii) while Cambodia’s fiscal system reduces inequality, the degree of inequality reduction is small in international comparison; and (iii) low-income households pay more in indirect taxes than they receive in cash benefits in the short term to offset the burden. As a result, the number of poor and vulnerable individuals who, in the short term, experience net cash subtractions from their incomes is greater than the number of poor and vulnerable individuals who experience net additions. Fiscal policy can deliver more net benefits to poor and vulnerable households through expanding social assistance spending. Cambodia has embarked on this expansion during the coronavirus pandemic, bringing it closer in line with comparators.
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Karamba, Wendy; Myck, Michal; Trzcinski, Kajetan; Tong, Kimsun. 2023. Fiscal Policy Effects on Poverty and Inequality in Cambodia. Policy Research Working Papers; 10570. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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