Protecting Education and Health Spending in Low-Income Countries

By Christine Lagarde

June 6, 2017

Versions in عربي (Arabic), 中文 (Chinese), Français (French) 日本語 (Japanese), Русский (Russian), and Español (Spanish)

Senior class in Nairobi, Kenya. In many countries with IMF-supported programs public spending on education grew significantly faster than the economy of the country (photo: Xinhua/Sipa USA/Newscom)

IMF-supported programs are designed to help economies get back on their feet, but what about their impact on social spending?

Our latest research shows that health and education spending have typically been protected in low-income country programs. In fact, an analysis of more than 25 years of data (1988–2014) suggests that public health spending, as a share of GDP, has on average remained unchanged, while public education spending has increased by 0.32 percentage points.

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Chart of the Week: Access to Banking Services

By iMFdirect

Version in: Français (French), and Español (Spanish)

Did you know that while many people in advanced economies have multiple bank accounts, there are barely two bank accounts for every ten people in low-income economies? Access to financial services is essential to spread the fruits of economic growth to all, not just to the fortunate few.  Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Access to Banking Services” »

Roads to Stronger Growth in Low-Income Countries

By Tao Zhang and Vladimir Klyuev

Versions in:  عربي (Arabic), 中文 (Chinese), Français (French), and Español (Spanish)

Low-income countries should build more infrastructure to strengthen growth. A new IMF analysis looks at ways to overcome obstacles.

The clock is now ticking on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and while investment—critical to this agenda—has been rising in recent years among low-income countries, weak infrastructure is still hampering growth. Governments need to make significant improvements to lay foundations for flourishing economies: roads to connect people to markets, electricity to keep factories running, sanitation to stave off disease, and pipelines to deliver safe water. Continue reading “Roads to Stronger Growth in Low-Income Countries” »

Make in India: Which Exports Can Drive the Next Wave of Growth?

By Rahul Anand, Kalpana Kochhar, and Saurabh Mishra

The expansion of India’s exports of services between 1990 and 2013 has been nothing short of spectacular, putting India on a par with the world’s high-income economies in terms of service-product sophistication and as a share of total exports. This has created unique opportunities for continued growth. By contrast, when it comes to exports of manufactured goods, India has lagged behind its emerging-markets peers, both in quality and as a percentage of the total export basket, leaving substantial room for improvement.

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Act Now, Act Together

By Vitor Gaspar and Luc Eyraud

Versions in 中文 (Chinese), Français (French), Español (Spanish), 日本語 (Japanese), and Русский (Russian)

Public finances have had a rough year. A new reality is emerging. Against this backdrop, countries need to act now to boost growth and build resilience. They must also be prepared to act together to fend off global risks.

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The Case for Reforming the Price of Water

David Lipton2012By David Lipton

Versions in عربي (Arabic), 中文 (Chinese), Français (French), 日本語 (Japanese), Русский (Russian), and Español (Spanish)

One of the first things most students of economics learn is the diamond and water paradox. How can it be that water is free even though life cannot exist without it, while diamonds are expensive although no one dies for lack of diamonds?

The answer is that water can be free if its supply is abundant relative to demand. Nevertheless, it is abundantly clear that worldwide, the demand for water outpaces supply. This imbalance is the clearest sign that water is underpriced. Yet, many governments are reluctant to price water like other goods.

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The Change in Demand for Debt: The New Landscape in Low-income Countries

By Andrea F. Presbitero and Min Zhu

(Versions in 中文 (Chinese), Français, and Português)

Many low-income developing countries have joined the group of Eurobond issuers across the globe— in sub-Saharan Africa (for example, Senegal, Zambia, and Ghana), Asia (for example, Mongolia) and elsewhere, raising over US$21 billion cumulatively over the past decade. Tapping these markets provides a new source of funds, but also exposes borrowers to shifts in investor sentiment and rising global interest rates.

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Moving On Up: The Growth Story of Frontier Economies

Min ZhuBy Min Zhu

(version in Español)

The growth story for frontier economies isn’t the same as China’s in the last two decades, or the United States a hundred years ago.  These fast growing, low-income countries have their own story, and it’s not what you might think.

In May of this year, I wrote about who they are and how they are different, and now I want to go into a bit more detail about how their economies have been on the rise and how they have moved themselves to the frontier.

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A Spotlight on the IMF’s Technical Assistance

Of the three main pillars of the IMF’s work, technical assistance has been a sort of middle child; it doesn’t get the attention of the oldest and youngest children, yet in many ways is the glue that holds the family together. The other two pillars are well known: we lend money to countries in times of need and crisis, and conduct annual check-ups of their economies and financial systems, known as surveillance. As countries around the world cope with the global economic crisis, the IMF’s technical assistance is a vital part of the work that we do to help countries prevent, prepare for and resolve crises. A new strategy for technical assistance is under discussion at the IMF and there are five key areas we need to focus on: adapting to countries’ evolving needs, more cooperation with donors, new ways to deliver technical assistance, the importance of training, and a focus on results.

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