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Public Debt and Social Expenditure: Friends or Foes?

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  • Eduardo Lora
  • Mauricio Olivera

Abstract

This paper assesses the effects of total public debt (external and domestic) on social expenditure worldwide and in Latin America using an unbalanced panel of around 50 countries for the period 1985-2003. The most robust and important finding is that higher debt ratios do reduce social expenditures, as popular opinion holds. Debt displaces social expenditures not so much because it raises the debt burden, but because it reduces the room (or the appetite) for further indebtedness. Loans from multilateral organizations like the World Bank or the Inter-American Development Bank do not seem to ameliorate the adverse consequences of debt on social expenditures. In accordance with popular wisdom, our results indicate that defaulting on debt obligations does help to increase social expenditures. The main policy implication is that there is no better way to protect social expenditures than to avoid over-indebtedness, especially in Latin America.

Suggested Citation

  • Eduardo Lora & Mauricio Olivera, 2006. "Public Debt and Social Expenditure: Friends or Foes?," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 3298, Inter-American Development Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:idb:brikps:3298
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Yeyati, Eduardo Levy & Panizza, Ugo, 2011. "The elusive costs of sovereign defaults," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 95-105, January.
    2. Dany Jaimovich & Ugo Panizza, 2010. "Public debt around the world: a new data set of central government debt," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(1), pages 19-24, January.
    3. Nicolas Depetris Chauvin & Aart Kraay, 2005. "What Has 100 Billion Dollars Worth of Debt Relief Done for Low- Income Countries?," International Finance 0510001, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Mahdavi, Saeid, 2004. "Shifts in the Composition of Government Spending in Response to External Debt Burden," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1139-1157, July.
    5. Ritha S. Khemani & Sanjeev Gupta & Calvin A McDonald & Louis Dicks-Mireaux & Marijn Verhoeven, 2000. "Social Issues in IMF-Supported Programs," IMF Occasional Papers 191, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Mauro, Paolo, 1998. "Corruption and the composition of government expenditure," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 263-279, June.
    7. Gupta, Sanjeev, 2000. "Social issues in IMF: supported programs," Sede de la CEPAL en Santiago (Estudios e Investigaciones) 34725, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).
    8. Dany Jaimovich & Ugo Panizza, 2010. "Public debt around the world: a new data set of central government debt," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(1), pages 19-24, January.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Andrea F. Presbitero, 2009. "Debt-Relief Effectiveness and Institution-Building," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 27(5), pages 529-559, September.
    2. Aminu, Umaru & Ahmad Aminu, Hamidu & Salihu, Musa, 2013. "External Debt and Domestic Debt impact on the growth of the Nigerian Economy," MPRA Paper 75122, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Marcela Meléndez Arjona & Arturo Harker Roa, 2008. "Revisiting economic growth in Colombia. A microeconomic perspective," WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 009137, FEDESARROLLO.
    4. Eduardo Lora, 2009. "La Vulnerabilidad Fiscal del Gasto Social: ¿Es diferente América Latina?," Revista de Analisis Economico – Economic Analysis Review, Ilades-Georgetown University, Universidad Alberto Hurtado/School of Economics and Bussines, vol. 24(1), pages 3-20, Junio.
    5. Ortiz, Isabel, & Cummins, Matthew. & Karunanethy, Kalaivani., 2015. "Fiscal space for social protection and the SDGs options to expand social investments in 187 countries," ILO Working Papers 994877663402676, International Labour Organization.
    6. repec:spr:laecrv:v:26:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s40503-017-0053-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Presbitero, Andrea F., 2008. "The Debt-Growth Nexus in Poor Countries: A Reassessment," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 2, pages 1-28.
    8. repec:unu:wpaper:wp2012-42 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Lora, Eduardo, 2008. "El futuro de los pactos fiscales en América Latina," Coediciones, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), number 1310, OCTOBER.
    10. Bruno Martorano, & Giovanni Andrea Cornia & Frances Stewart, 2012. "Human Development and Fiscal Policy: Comparing the Crises of 1982-85 and 2008-11," Working Papers - Economics wp2012_23.rdf, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Scienze per l'Economia e l'Impresa.
    11. Marin Ferry & Marc Raffinot, 2018. "Curse or Blessing? Has the impact of debt relief lived up to expectations? A review of the effects of the multilateral debt relief initiatives for low-income countries," Working Papers DT/2018/12, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
    12. S. Mansoob Murshed & Muhammad Saleh, 2013. "Human Capital Accumulation in Pakistan in the Light of Debt, Military Expenditure and Politics," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(4), pages 520-558, November.
    13. Eduardo Lora, 2007. "Public Investment in Infrastructure in Latin America: Is Debt the Culprit?," Research Department Publications 4502, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    14. Isabel Ortiz & Jingqing Chai & Matthew Cummins, 2011. "Identifying Fiscal Space:Options for Social and Economic Development for Children and Poor Households in 184 Countries," Working papers 1108, UNICEF,Division of Policy and Strategy.
    15. Nicolas Van de Sijpe, 2013. "Is Foreign Aid Fungible? Evidence from the Education and Health Sectors," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 27(2), pages 320-356.

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