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International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

Countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (MENAP) region and those in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with swift and stringent measures to mitigate its spread and impact but continue to face an uncertain and difficult environment. Oil exporters were particularly hard hit by a “double-whammy” of the economic impact of lockdowns and the resulting sharp decline in oil demand and prices. Containing the health crisis, cushioning income losses, and expanding social spending remain immediate priorities. However, governments must also begin to lay the groundwork for recovery and rebuilding stronger, including by addressing legacies from the crisis and strengthening inclusion.

Djeneba Doumbia and Mr. Tidiane Kinda
Can a government reduce income inequality by changing the composition of public spending while keeping the total level of expenditure fixed? Using newly assembled data on spending composition for 83 countries across all income groups, this paper shows that reallocating spending toward social protection and infrastructure is associated with reduced income inequality, particularly when it is financed through cuts in defense spending. However, the political and security situation matters. The analysis does not find evidence that lowering defense spending to finance infrastructure and social outlays improves income distribution in countries with weak institutions and at higher risk of conflict. Reallocating social protection and infrastructure spending towards other types of spending tends to increase income inequality. Accounting for the long-term impact of health spending, and particularly education spending, helps to better capture the equalizing effects of these expenditures. The paper includes a discussion of the implications of the findings for Indonesia, a major emerging market where income inequality is at the center of policy issues.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Selected Issues

International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept., International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, &, and Review Department
Interest in social spending issues has intensified over the last decade. This reflects concerns about rising inequality and the need to support vulnerable groups, especially in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. In line with this, the Fund has also increased its engagement on social spending issues. This paper outlines a strategy to guide IMF engagement on social spending issues going forward.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept., International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, &, and Review Department
Interest in social spending issues has intensified over the last decade. This reflects concerns about rising inequality and the need to support vulnerable groups, especially in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. In line with this, the Fund has also increased its engagement on social spending issues. This paper outlines a strategy to guide IMF engagement on social spending issues going forward.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept., International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, &, and Review Department
La question des dépenses sociales connaît un vif regain d'intérêt depuis une dizaine d’années. La montée des inégalités et le nécessaire soutien des populations vulnérables focalisent de plus en plus d’attention, surtout depuis la crise financière mondiale. Parallèlement, le FMI a multiplié ses travaux sur les dépenses sociales. Ce document propose une stratégie pour guider l’action du FMI concernant les différents aspects des dépenses sociales.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept., International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, &, and Review Department
This Supplement presents an account of the extensive consultations and the results of various analyses that supported the development of “A Strategy for IMF Engagement on Social Spending.”