Project Researchers: Neil McCulloch

This project aims to understand what Nigerians think about fuel subsidies and their attitudes towards their reform, reduction or removal. It will draw on a new nationally representative survey of perceptions about taxes and subsidies in Nigeria. The analysis will show the characteristics associated with support for and opposition to subsidy reform. It will then exploit theories from the literature on perceptions of taxation to examine the influence of factors such as: economic benefit/cost; knowledge; personal and social norms; reciprocity/social contract; trust; fairness; and participation and voice – while controlling for other structural and personal factors that might influence support for subsidy reform.

The project adopts a mixed-methods methodology with three components. First, there will be a review of the literature on subsidy reform, including in Nigeria, to draw out whatever lessons can be found from the limited amount of previous work on this topic. Second, we will analyse the nationally representative survey data using cross-tabulations to show the characteristics associated with support or opposition to reform and then regression analysis to explore a set of hypotheses about the underlying determinants of support. In particular, the survey included a simple survey experiment by framing a key question in different ways. We will analyse this data to see whether the framing of the message influences support for reform. Third, the survey also included a set of Focus Group Discussions with men and women across all the geo-political zones of the country. This will be used to try and understand the reasons behind the responses found in the survey, and to explore, in a more nuanced way, the arguments used by different groups for the positions that they hold.