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.
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.
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
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.
While South Africa has made significant improvements in basic and tertiary education enrollment, the country still suffers from significant challenges in the quality of educational achievement by almost any international metric. The paper finds that money is clearly not the main issue since the South Africa’s education budget is comparable to OECD countries as a percent of GDP and exceeds that of most peer sub-Saharan African countries in per capita terms. The main explanatory factors are complex and multifaceted, and are associated with insufficient subject knowledge of some teachers, history, race, language, geographic location, and socio-economic status. Low educational achievement contributes to low productivity growth, and high levels of poverty, unemployment, and inequality. Drawing on the literature, the paper sketches some policy considerations to guide the debate on what works and what does not.
Hui Jin, La-Bhus Fah Jirasavetakul, and Baoping Shang
This paper, using Moldova as an example, presents a systematic approach to assess the efficiency and equity of public education spending, identify sources of inefficiencies and inequality, and formulate potential reform options. The analytical framework combines international benchmarking with country-specific analysis—such as microeconomic analysis based on household survey data—and can provide important insights into diagnosing and reforming education systems. The analysis finds significant scope to improve both efficiency and equity of the education sector in Moldova. Potential reform measures include further consolidating the oversized school network, reducing overstaffing, and better targeting government subsidies. The current remuneration policy could also be improved to attract high quality teachers and incentivize performance.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
Fourth Review Under the Extended Fund Facility Arrangement and Request for Modifications of Quantitative Performance Criteria-Press Release; Staff Report; and a Statement by the Executive Director for Georgia
Asia Rising -- explores Asia's role in the world economy, the challenges faced from globalization, the quest for greater regional financial integration, the problem of lagging investment, and why East Asia performed so much better than Latin America. It also looks at the recovery of Japan and the rise of India and China. The economies of the ASEAN-4 come under the microscope in Country Focus. Other articles examine financial sector reform in Africa and the remaining hurdles to financial integration in the European Union. People in Economics profiles Paul Krugman, Back to Basics focuses on hedge funds, and the Straight Talk column looks at the problem of underdevelopment.