The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. With nearly 300 released each year, working papers cover a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Public health spending is low in emerging and developing economies relative to advanced economies and health outputs and outcomes need to be substantially improved. Simply increasing public expenditure in the health sector, however, may not significantly affect health outcomes if the efficiency of this spending is low. This paper quantifies the inefficiency of public health expenditure and the associated potential gains for emerging and developing economies using a stochastic frontier model that controls for the socioeconomic determinants of health, and provides country-specific estimates. The results suggest that African economies have the lowest efficiency. At current spending levels, they could boost life expectancy up to about five years if they followed best practices.