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.
Consumer subsidies to oil consumption depress the visible price of fossil fuels to end users, and with it their incentive to substitute alternative fuels or conservation. Understanding which countries mute price adjustments in oil products, and to what degree, is important in mapping out the options and trade-offs for reform.