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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.

Giuseppe Carone and Declan Costello

The Economics of Demographics provides a detailed look at how the biggest demographic upheaval in history is affecting global development. The issue explores demographic change and the effects of population aging from a variety of angles, including pensions, health care, financial markets, and migration, and looks specifically at the impact in Europe and Asia. Picture This looks at global demographic trends, while Back to Basics explains the concept of the demographic dividend. Country Focus spotlights Kazakhstan, while People in Economics profiles Nobel prize winner Robert Mundell. IMF Economic Counsellor Raghuram Rajan argues for further change in India's style of government in his column, Straight Talk.

International Monetary Fund

Abstract

Political leaders have so frequently cried wolf over budgetary spending that voters are skeptical about talk of budgetary crises. This is unfortunate, since deficits should arouse genuine concern, particularly as their size in some industrial countries is daunting. Yet, the absolute size of deficits is not their most alarming aspect. In fact, most countries now run much smaller deficits (as a ratio of GDP) than they did during wartime. Rather, the persistence of budgetary shortfalls during a long period of peace, when governments traditionally pay off debts and save for the future, should set the alarm bells ringing. Furthermore, projected increases in the cost of government programs, as populations age and economic growth lags, give cause for further concern.

International Monetary Fund

Abstract

The phenomenon of substantial peacetime budget deficits over the past20 years has been traced to the burden of entitlements, a slowdown ineconomic productivity, and demographic and macroeconomic shifts in theindustrial countries. Though smaller and structurally different, deficitsin developing countries have also become worrisome. Most economists agreethat measures to reduce government spending are imperative, particularlythrough restructuring entitlement programs.

Neil Howe and Richard Jackson

'Wising Up to the Costs of Aging' looks at how falling fertility and rising life expectancy have combined to threaten the ability of many countries to provide a decent standard of living for the old without imposing a crushing burden on the young. In our lead article, Ronald Lee and Andrew Mason say that while population aging in rich industrial countries as well as in some middle- and lower-income countries will challenge public and private budgets in many ways, a combination of reduced consumption, postponed retirement, increased asset holdings, and greater investment in human capital should make it possible to meet this challenge without catastrophic consequences. Neil Howe and Richard Jackson publish a fascinating ranking of which countries are best and worst prepared to meet the needs of the growing wave of retirees. We also have articles on a broad range of current topics, including Middle East unemployment, the economic repercussions of the earthquake and devastating tsunami in Japan, and banking in offshore financial centers such as the Cayman Islands. Carmen Reinhart and Jacob Kirkegaard look at how governments are finding ways to manipulate markets to hold down the cost of financing huge public debts, and, in Straight Talk, the IMF's Min Zhu talks about the long-term challenges now facing emerging markets. Prakash Loungani speaks to Nobel Prize winner George Akerlof, and we discuss with three other laureates-Michael Spence, Joseph Stiglitz, and Robert Solow-what the global economic crisis has taught us. Back to Basics explains economic models, and Picture This highlights the great variations in the cost of sending money back home.

International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.
The IMF Research Bulletin, a quarterly publication, selectively summarizes research and analytical work done by various departments at the IMF, and also provides a listing of research documents and other research-related activities, including conferences and seminars. The Bulletin is intended to serve as a summary guide to research done at the IMF on various topics, and to provide a better perspective on the analytical underpinnings of the IMF’s operational work.
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper focuses on the fiscal challenge for Belgium in coping with population aging, including the sustainability of prevailing fiscal federalism arrangements across all levels of governments. The analysis demonstrates that the current strategy of upfront consolidation is likely to fall short of achieving sustainability. Further reductions in aging-related spending and growth and productivity-enhancing reforms beyond those assumed under the authorities’ strategy appear to be necessary. The paper also assesses whether the wage bargaining framework, a key labor market institution, is conducive to preserving external competitiveness and raising employment rates.
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper analyzes the challenge of population aging for Belgium. It argues that the aging strategy should be broadened to include more explicitly the objective of raising employment rates to foster potential growth. The paper discusses assumptions underlying the official aging projections, and presents an alternative baseline scenario on the basis of unchanged policies. It discusses the feasibility of strategies that rely exclusively on either fiscal or labor market adjustment, and illustrates the benefits of a two-pronged strategy. The paper also examines employment effects of reductions in labor taxes in a wage-bargaining model.
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper analyzes the effect of aging on pension expenditure in Luxembourg. The paper highlights that Luxembourg is in a relatively favorable position because its GDP growth has been well above the average for industrialized countries in the post-war period. Moreover, growth has been unconstrained in that much of it has been based on the influx of foreign capital and labor. The paper provides some illustrative simulations of pension expenditure in Luxembourg, and describes the demographic developments. After reviewing methodological issues, simulations of pension expenditure until 2050 are also presented.