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Are IMF lending programs good or bad for democracy?

Author

Listed:
  • Stephen C. Nelson

    () (Northwestern University)

  • Geoffrey P. R. Wallace

    () (Rutgers University)

Abstract

Abstract Have IMF lending programs undermined political democracy in borrowing countries? Building on the extensive literature on conditional lending, we outline several pathways through which IMF program participation might affect the levels of democracy in borrowing countries - including a new variant that suggests the possibility of a positive association between lending program participation and democracy scores. In order to test the argument we assemble annual data from 120 low- and middle-income countries observed (at maximum) in each year between 1971 and 2007. We use three strategies - genetic matching, instrumental variables, and difference-in-differences estimation - to better estimate the direction and size of the statistical association between participation in IMF lending programs and the level of democracy. We find evidence for modest but definitively positive conditional differences in the democracy scores of participating and non-participating countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen C. Nelson & Geoffrey P. R. Wallace, 2017. "Are IMF lending programs good or bad for democracy?," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 523-558, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:revint:v:12:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11558-016-9250-3
    DOI: 10.1007/s11558-016-9250-3
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