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Addressing the 'Wicked Problem' of Input Subsidy Programs in Africa

Jacob Ricker-Gilbert (), Thomas Jayne () and Gerald Shively ()

Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, 2013, vol. 35, issue 2, 322-340

Abstract: This article reviews and critically assesses evidence on input subsidy programs implemented in selected countries over the past decade in Africa. We believe that input subsidies should be considered wicked problems because of the indeterminacy and difficulty surrounding how they are evaluated. Main findings from the current body of literature are that input subsidies provide some measurable but relatively small positive benefit to recipient households' well-being. In addition, most studies find that subsidized inputs crowd out commercial input purchases, mitigating the extent to which subsidy programs contribute to total fertilizer use and crop production. African governments may wish to carefully consider the benefits and distributional effects of input subsidy programs relative to other uses of scarce public resources. Copyright 2013, Oxford University Press.

Date: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:oup:apecpp:v:35:y:2013:i:2:p:322-340