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The political economy of food subsidies in Egypt: Reforms and strengthening of social protection

Author:

Flavia Lorenzon

London School of Economics and Political Science, GB
About Flavia

MSc in Political Economy of Late Development, Class of 2015

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Abstract

Egypt’s widely used food subsidies have been controversial since they were first introduced in 1941 by President Gamal Nasser. Subsidies are implicitly nontargeted transfers that reduce the risk of food insecurity. At the same time, they impose a heavy fiscal burden on governments. Over time, the majority of Egyptians have come to see food subsidies as the most concrete social benefit received from the government. Therefore, despite the fact that the current food subsidies system inadequately targets the poorest part of the population, past attempts at reform have proven difficult to implement. This paper has two objectives: 1) to assess historical linkages between the two main food subsidies programmes and socio-political stability in Egypt, and 2) to present alternatives for improving Egypt’s food-based social safety nets. This study finds that better targeting in lieu of eliminating food subsidies is the optimal option to avoid social unrest. In addition, this paper concludes by analysing the alternative safety nets and their limitations given the political context.

How to Cite: Lorenzon, F., 2016. The political economy of food subsidies in Egypt: Reforms and strengthening of social protection. The Public Sphere: Journal of Public Policy, 4(1), pp.105–133.
Published on 01 Jan 2016.
Peer Reviewed

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