Income inequality in Latin America has declined during the last decade, in contrast to the experience in many other emerging and developed regions. However, Latin America remains the most unequal region in the world. This study documents the declining trend in income inequality in Latin America and proposes various reasons behind this important development. Using a panel econometric analysis for a large group of emerging and developing countries, we find that the Kuznets curve holds. Notwithstanding the limitations in the dataset and of cross-country regression analysis more generally, our results suggest that almost two-thirds of the recent decline in income inequality in Latin America is explained by policies and strong GDP growth, with policies alone explaining more than half of this total decline. Higher education spending is the most important driver, followed by stronger foreign direct investment and higher tax revenues. Results suggest that policies and to some extent positive growth dynamics could play an important role in lowering inequality further.
This paper analyzes trends in social indicators in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and their correlation with the three most widely used scaled measures of government social spending: in per capita terms, as a percentage of GDP, and as a percentage of total government expenditure. On the basis of a regional data set matching health and education outcome indicators with government spending on those sectors, cross-country statistical analysis shows spending both per capita and as a percent of GDP to be of some relevance to social outcomes, but not the share of social spending in budgetary allocations. The policy implications concern not only governments in the region, but also the international donor community for its role in supporting social programs in SSA.
Mr. Joshua Comenetz, Mr. Ales Bulir, and Ms. Zuzana Brixiova
This paper shows that during the 1990s, and before the 1998-2000 border war with Eritrea, the gender gap in education in Eritrea has widened on the national level, and large regional disparities have persisted. The gender gap appears to be linked to lower female teacher participation and limited employment opportunities. The widening of the gender gap is likely to have a long-term negative impact on both economic growth and poverty reduction.
Authors of Working Papers are normally staff members of the Fund or consultants, although on occasion outside authors may collaborate with a staff member in writing a paper. The views expressed in the Working Papers or their summaries are, however, those of the authors and should not necessarily be interpreted as representing the views of the Fund. Copies of individual Working Papers and information on subscriptions to the annual series of Working Papers may be obtained from IMF Publication Services, International Monetary Fund, 700 19th Street, Washington, D.C. 20431. Telephone: (202) 623-7430 Telefax: (202) 623-7201 This compilation of summaries of Working Papers released during July-December 1994 is being issued as a part of the Working Paper series. It is designed to provide the reader with an overview of the research work performed by the staff during the period.
This paper reviews public expenditure in Lithuania to identify areas where deeper structural reforms may be warranted to improve spending efficiency and contain future spending pressures. The analysis benchmarks spending in Lithuania against other European countries focusing on spending levels, spending composition, and spending outcomes, and for both economic and functional spending classifications. While recent expenditure consolidation efforts have kept public spending among the lowest in Europe, a transition from broad-based measures to more structural measures will be required: to ensure that low spending levels remain sustainable, to address poor social outcomes such as high inequality and poor health and education outcomes, and to efficiently and equitably contain spending pressures arising from an ageing population.
This paper analyzes drivers of rising per-pupil public education spending, including Baumol’s “cost disease” effect. Higher wages paid to teachers contributed significantly to the increase in per-pupil spending over the past decades. Empirical analyses using a large dataset of advanced and developing economies show that the contribution of Baumol’s effect was much smaller than impled by theory. Rather, the spending inccrease reflects rising wage premiums paid for teachers in excess of market wages, especially in middle-income countries. The strong wage premium effect suggests that institutional characteristics that govern teachers’ wage setting are key determinants of education expenditure.
Developing and low-income economies face the challenge of increasing public spending to address sizeable infrastructure and social gaps while simultaneously restoring the fiscal discipline weakened to countervail the effect of the global recession. Increasing the efficiency of social spending could be the key policy to address the dilemma as it allows the optimization of the existing resources by reducing spending inefficiencies. This paper quantifies the efficiency gap in the health and education sectors for a large sample of developing and emerging countries and proposes measures to reduce these gaps for the specific cases of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.