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Financial Crises and Social Spending

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  • Maureen Lewis
  • Marijn Verhoeven

Abstract

Financial crises in developing and transition countries have often proven disruptive to policies and programmes due to procyclical trends in government spending growth. Given the importance and significant proportion of public budgets devoted to education and health, cuts in government expenditures during recessions potentially place social programmes at risk. This paper analyses the experiences from 1995–2007 for 131 countries, projects fiscal social spending to 2013, and examines specific issues around fiscal social spending in the current crisis, including donor responses and government and household coping mechanisms. Growth rate trends in education and health spending fluctuate over time, with greater volatility in education. Despite the variation on growth rate trends, absolute levels of fiscal spending rise steadily over time, with brief flat trends over one or two years, reflecting periods of GDP growth decline. Public spending tends to be more counter-cyclical for education compared to health. While sharp declines in growth rates of fiscal social spending are projected, they are balanced by projected increases in absolute spending over the 2008–2013 period.

Suggested Citation

  • Maureen Lewis & Marijn Verhoeven, 2010. "Financial Crises and Social Spending," World Economics, World Economics, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 11(4), pages 79-110, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:wej:wldecn:445
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    Cited by:

    1. Harrison, Ann & Sepulveda, Claudia, 2011. "Learning from developing country experience : growth and economic thought before and after the 2008-09 crisis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5752, The World Bank.
    2. Grigoli, Francesco & Mills, Zachary & Verhoeven, Marijn & Vlaicu, Razvan, 2012. "MTEFs and fiscal performance: panel data evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6186, The World Bank.
    3. Sara Guerschanik Calvo, 2010. "The Global Financial Crisis of 2008-10: A View from the Social Sectors," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2010-18, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
    4. Conor Keegan & Steve Thomas & Charles Normand & Conceição Portela, 2013. "Measuring recession severity and its impact on healthcare expenditure," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 139-155, June.

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