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Marijn Verhoeven, Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, and Mr. Erwin H Tiongson
There is little empirical evidence to support the claim that public spending improves education and health indicators. This paper uses cross-sectional data for 50 developing and transition countries to show that expenditure allocations within the two social sectors improve both access to and attainment in schools and reduce mortality rates for infants and children. The size and efficiency of these allocations are important for promoting equity and furthering second-generation reforms.
International Monetary Fund
Using data for a sample of developing and transition countries, this paper estimates the relationship between government spending on health care and education, and social indicators. Unlike previous studies, where social indicators are used as proxies for the unobservable health and education status of the population, this paper estimates a latent variable model. The findings suggest that public social spending is an important determinant of social indicators, particularly in the education sector. Overall, the latent variable approach was found to yield more adequate estimates of social production functions, with larger elasticities of social indicators with respect to income and spending on education than the traditional approach, providing stronger evidence that increases in public spending have a positive impact on social indicators. The study also finds that the millennium goal of universal primary education enrollment by 2015 could be achieved through an increase by one-third, on average, in education spending.
Miss Candice Y Liu and Ms. Mercedes Garcia-Escribano
This manual presents the Expenditure Assessment Tool (EAT), which helps assess expenditures for any specific country. EAT uses the commonly available software program Excel and has been designed by Expenditure Policy Division at Fiscal Affairs Department at IMF. The information EAT provides can be very useful in the evaluation of government spending and in the identification of areas where there may be room to increase spending efficiency or rationalize spending. The evaluation is done through benchmarking of spending—levels, composition and outcomes—against regional and income comparators. The focus is on both the economic and functional classification of expenditures. The application of the tool to spending in Argentina is presented as an illustration.
International Monetary Fund

The key findings of the Czech Republic’s 2010 Article IV Consultation are discussed. Large foreign direct investment inflows fostered trade integration, underpinning an export-led expansion. Higher initial standard of living contained consumption convergence pressures. An improved fiscal performance contributed to the comfortable external position. This, combined with credible inflation targeting, resulted in generally low inflation and interest rates. A liquid and conservative banking sector limited the build-up of balance sheet vulnerabilities.

Nicoletta Batini and Giovanni Callegari

'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.

Amr Hosny
This paper finds empirical evidence that faster and smarter containment measures were associated with lower fiscal responses to the COVID-19 shock. We also find that initial conditions, such as fiscal space, income, health preparedness and budget transparency were important in shaping the amount and design of the COVID-19 fiscal response.
Mr. Javier Kapsoli and Iulia Ruxandra Teodoru
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.