Arnold McIntyre, Pablo Bejar, 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.
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.