Impact assessment of alternative reforms of Child Allowances using RUSMOD – the static tax-benefit microsimulation model for Russia
RUSMOD is a static tax-benefit microsimulation model for Russia. The model can be used for ex post and ex ante evaluation of reforms of personal income taxation and social benefits in Russia. In addition, being compatible with EUROMOD, the Russian model is suitable for simulation of cross-country policy transfers. The aim of this paper is to shed light on various aspects of the model. It discusses specific problems arising in the evaluation of unreported income and benefits non-take up in Russia. The final estimates of poverty and inequality from RUSMOD are very close to those based on National accounts; hence, the model can be seen as a reliable tool for evaluating the current performance of the Russian tax-benefit system and the distributive impact of potential tax-benefit reforms. Then the paper provides an example of application of the model – an analysis of alternative scenarios for improving the design of child allowances in Russia. Currently, this benefit has a poor targeting performance and varies across regions of Russia in terms of design and generosity, which raises serious equity concerns. Redirecting these resources to the poor – by means of better targeting and raising the benefit amounts – brings about significant improvements in overall and child poverty indicators even at the current level of spending. The most sizable impact on poverty is achieved by implementing the unified national design of the program.