The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper presents evidence on the political and economic determinants of social sector spending from a panel dataset. The principal finding is that democratization in countries, as measured by within-country variation in subjective indices of democracy, is a significant predictor of government spending on education and health. The relationship is robust to controlling for a variety of factors and the estimated magnitudes suggest that an increase from the lowest to the highest rating for democracy for a country is associated with approximately 1 percent more central government spending and 3 percent more general government spending in social sectors, as a percent of GDP.