CGD in the News

IMF Loans Encourage Poor Countries to Raise Their Health Spending, Not Cut It (The Guardian)

February 01, 2011

CGD was mentioned in a response piece in The Guardian defending IMF loans.

From the Article:

You report a study which claims "poor countries that borrow from the International Monetary Fund are spending just one cent in every dollar received in health aid on improving the medical care of their populations" (Poor countries with IMF loans 'divert aid from public health', 17 January). The research suggested that "the curbs on public spending stipulated by the fund were encouraging governments in poor countries to use health aid for other needs".

This is a serious charge. It is also false. The study, published in the International Journal of Health Services, has serious methodological problems. It ignores the economic situation of countries borrowing from the IMF: they nearly always face severe economic disruption, and are likely to have problems paying their bills as financing dries up. The research fails to address this selection bias because it does not examine what happened in crisis-hit countries who did not turn to the IMF.

Controlling for this effect, there is no evidence whatsoever that countries with IMF loans see a reduction in health spending. If anything, the opposite is true. We see this in our own research and in that of reputable outsiders. The Center for Global Development, for example, found that poor countries with IMF loans saw larger increases in health spending than those without such loans. The IMF's Independent Evaluation Office also found social spending does not fall when countries receive IMF loans.

Read the Article.