Arnold McIntyre, Mr. Takuji Komatsuzaki, and Mr. Mauricio Vargas
Rising income inequality has emerged as a major policy issue facing policymakers, but there is a dearth of empirical work on inequality in small states, including the Caribbean. Despite data limitations, the empirical analysis using a sample of small states finds that increased openness and deeper economic integration including financial market openness is associated with lower income inequality, whereas elevated debt levels limit fiscal space and are associated with higher income inequality. An important policy implication is that well targeted social sector spending aimed at improving education and health indicators will support increased redistribution and reduce income inequality.
Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, Alejandro Hajdenberg, and Mr. Javier Arze del Granado
This paper studies the cyclical behavior of public spending on health and education in 150 countries during 1987 - 2007. It finds that spending on education and health is procyclical in developing countries and acyclical in developed countries. In addition, education and health expenditures follow an asymmetric pattern in developing countries; they are procyclical during periods of positive output gap and acyclical during periods of negative output gap. Furthermore, the degree of cyclicality is higher the lower the level of economic development.
This paper analyzes Central America's track record on inequality, poverty, and quality of fiscal adjustment in relation to economic growth; health and education outcomes; adequacy of social safety nets; and governance. It then assesses the degree to which the track record can be traced to reforms in public expenditure and governance. Despite the considerable heterogeneity among the countries in the region, there are some policies that all countries need to pursue. Sustained growth and a better quality of fiscal adjustment are needed, as well as policies aimed at increasing individuals' productivity and improving governance.