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Deon Filmer, Roberta Gatti, Halsey Rogers, Mr. Nikola Spatafora, and Drilona Emrullahu
We discuss existing shortfalls and inequalities in the accumulation of human capital—knowledge, skills, and health. We analyze their immediate and systemic causes, and assess the scope for public intervention. The broad policy goals should be to improve: the quality, and not just the quantity, of education and health care; outcomes for disadvantaged groups; and lifelong outcomes. The means to achieve these goals, while maximizing value for money, include: focusing on results rather than just inputs; moving from piecemeal interventions to systemic reform; and adopting a “whole-of-society” approach. Reforms must be underpinned by a robust evidence base.
Mr. Olumuyiwa S Adedeji, Huancheng Du, and Mr. Maxwell Opoku-Afari
The inclusiveness of growth depends on the extent of access to economic and social opportunities. This paper applies the concept of social opportunity function to ascertain the inclusiveness of growth episodes in selected African countries. Premised on the concept of social welfare function, inclusive growth is associated with increased average opportunities available to the population and improvement in their distribution. The paper establishes that the high growth episodes in the last decade in the selected countries came with increased average opportunities in education and health; but distribution of such opportunities varied across countries, depending on the country-specific policies underpining the growth episodes.
Mrs. Ritha S. Khemani, Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, Mr. Calvin A McDonald, Mr. Louis Dicks-Mireaux, and Marijn Verhoeven

Abstract

As part of its mandate, the IMF seeks to create the conditions necessary for sustained high-quality growth, which encompasses a broad range of elements. These include sound macroeconomic policies, growth-enhancing structural reforms, good governance, and such social policies as cost-effective social safety nets and targeted social expenditures. This paper reviews the IMF's policy advice in two key areas of social policy: social safety nets and public spending on education and health care. It was initiated as part of the work by the World Bank and IMF to strengthen the poverty focus of adjustment programs in low-income countries, in particular within the framework of the Initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs).

Mr. David E. Sahn and Mr. Stephen D. Younger
This paper examines the progressivity of social sector expenditures and taxes in eight sub-Saharan African countries. It uses dominance tests to determine whether health and education expenditures redistribute resources to the poor. The paper finds that social services are poorly targeted. Among the services examined, primary education tends to be most progressive, and university education is least progressive. The paper finds that many taxes are progressive as well as efficient, including some broad-based taxes such as the VAT and wage taxation. Taxes on kerosene and exports appear to be the only examples of regressive taxes.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
For the latest thinking about the international financial system, monetary policy, economic development, poverty reduction, and other critical issues, subscribe to Finance & Development (F&D). This lively quarterly magazine brings you in-depth analyses of these and other subjects by the IMF’s own staff as well as by prominent international experts. Articles are written for lay readers who want to enrich their understanding of the workings of the global economy and the policies and activities of the IMF.