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.
This paper studies the role of fiscal policies and institutions in building resilience in sub-Saharan African countries during 1990-2013, with specific emphasis on a group of twenty-six countries that were deemed fragile in the 1990s. As the drivers of fragility and resilience are closely intertwined, we use GMM estimation as well as a probabilistic framework to address endogeneity and reverse causality. We find that fiscal institutions and fiscal space, namely the capacity to raise tax revenue and contain current spending, as well as lower military spending and, to some extent, higher social expenditure, are significantly and fairly robustly associated with building resilience. Similar conclusions arise from a study of the progression of a group of seven out of the twenty-six sub- Saharan African countries that managed to build resilience after years of civil unrest and/or violent conflict. These findings suggest relatively high returns to focusing on building sound fiscal institutions in fragile states. The international community can help this process through policy advice, technical assistance, and training on tax administration and budget reforms.