Understanding who benefits from fuel price subsidies and the welfare impact of increasing fuel prices is key to designing, and gaining public support for, subsidy reform. This paper updates evidence for developing countries on the magnitude of the welfare impact of subsidy reform and its distribution across income groups, incorporating more recent studies and expanding the number of countries. These studies confirm that a very large share of benefits from price subsidies goes to high-income households, further reinforcing existing income inequalities.
The oil price decline creates an opportunity to dismantle energy subsidies, which escalated with high oil prices. This paper assesses energy subsidies in Latin America and the Caribbean-about 1.8 percent of GDP in 2011-13 (approximately evenly split between fuel and electricity), and about 3.8 percent of GDP including negative externalities. Countries with poorer institutions subsidize more. Energy-rich countries subsidize fuel more, but low-income countries are more likely to subsidize electricity, as are Central America and the Caribbean.