April 17, 2020
Written by WID.world

Green Welfare States in Developing Countries

The Quest for Green Welfare States in Developing Countries

In this paper, Tancrède Voituriez provides a typology of green welfare states or “ecostates” in developing countries, according to their performance in tackling inequalities and addressing environmental challenges. More specifically, it focuses on the particular type of “insecure ecostates”, and delineates the characteristics of ecostate insecurity and possible way forward taking the example of Nigeria.

Key facts

As a result of this work, the author highlights four key facts:

  • Four distinct types of ecostates: unequal, super unequal, balanced and insecure ecostates;
  • Insecure ecostates gathers a large share of emerging economies: Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, etc. ;
  • In these middle-income countries lives the majority of the world poor. These countries face the daunting task to reduce inequality at the bottom of the distribution, while mitigating environmental risks associated with growth-led poverty reduction strategies;
  • The case of Nigeria highlights some root causes of ecostate insecurity: Glaring yet poorly measured income and wealth inequalities; an abysmally low budget and willingness to pay taxes; systemic corruption

(More data on income inequality in Nigeria).

Recommendations to move towards green welfare states

In order to move out of the ecostate insecurity trap, Tancrède Voituriez makes 4 policy recommendations :

  • Swap fossil fuel subsidies for social spending;
  • Build on humanitarian cash-transfer experiences to develop adaptative social protection systems;
  • Substitute renewables-based mini-grids and solar home systems to fossil-fuel based generators;
  • Connect existing transparency initiatives on budget and oil revenues with the initiative for Distributional National Accounts. As a result, it would increase the impact of “disclosure” across these different fields and scrutiny on governmental action. Eventually, it would contribute to moving insecure ecostate countries out of the insecurity trap.


The figure below illustrates the distribution of States available revenue per capita in Nigeria, for the year 2017.

In terms of public revenue per capita, southern States and in particular littoral ones are better off than their Northern non-oil-producing counterparts. Even though the derivation formula remains criticized by some Southern States political leaders for depriving oil-producing States from much needed public resources.

Nigeria State Available Revenue Per Capita- World Inequality Lab