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Selection Bias and the Output Costs of IMF Programs

  • Michael M. Hutchison

    (University of California, Santa Cruz)

Questions over the role of the IMF in the economic development and adjustment in developing countries have been the topic of intensive research and debate in recent years. Although most studies find that participation in an IMF program helps facilitate balance of payments adjustment, research in this area almost uniformly finds that growth is reduced at the same time (e.g. Bordo and Schwartz, 2000; Przeworski and Vreeland, 2000). In this paper we emphasize that the evaluation of the benefits and costs of participating in IMF-sponsored stabilization programs is complicated by the fact that countries typically enter into an agreement with the IMF only when facing dire economic problems. We argue that the sample selection bias is mainly responsible for the common perception that real output growth declines because countries choose to participate in IMF programs. This article uses four recently developed “matching” statistical methods (e.g. Heckman et al., 1997 and 1998; Rubin and Thomas, 1992; and others), based on the “selection on observables” bias, to estimate the growth effects of IMF program participation. In contrast with the extant literature, none of the matching method results (nearest neighbor, strata, radius and regression-adjusted) find an adverse growth effect. Rather, there is some evidence of a positive impulse to economic growth when countries entering IMF programs are compared to the appropriate counter-factual (i.e. non-participating countries with similar characteristics).

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Paper provided by Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series EPRU Working Paper Series with number 04-15.

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Length: 16 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:epruwp:04-15
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  1. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra, 1998. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 261-94, April.
  2. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 1998. "Propensity Score Matching Methods for Non-experimental Causal Studies," NBER Working Papers 6829, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Bordo, Michael D. & Schwartz, Anna J., 2000. "Measuring real economic effects of bailouts: historical perspectives on how countries in financial distress have fared with and without bailouts," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 81-167, December.
  4. Michael Hutchison & Ilan Noy, 2003. "Macroeconomic effects of IMF-sponsored programs in Latin America: output costs, program recidivism and the vicious cycle of failed stabilizations," Pacific Basin Working Paper Series 03-02, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  5. Michael M. Hutchison, 2001. "A Cure Worse Than the Disease? Currency Crises and the Output Costs of IMF-Supported Stabilization Programs," NBER Working Papers 8305, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Graham Bird, 2002. "The Completion Rate of IMF Programmes: What We Know, Don't Know and Need to Know," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(6), pages 833-847, 06.
  7. Reuven Glick & Ramon Moreno & Mark Spiegel, 2001. "Financial crises in emerging markets," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue mar.23.
  8. Conway, Patrick, 1994. "IMF lending programs: Participation and impact," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 365-391, December.
  9. Michael P. Dooley & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 2003. "Managing Currency Crises in Emerging Markets," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number dool03-1, August.
  10. Dicks-Mireaux, Louis & Mecagni, Mauro & Schadler, Susan, 2000. "Evaluating the effect of IMF lending to low-income countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 495-526, April.
  11. Przeworski, Adam & Vreeland, James Raymond, 2000. "The effect of IMF programs on economic growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 385-421, August.
  12. Boughton, James M, 2000. "From Suez to Tequila: The IMF as Crisis Manager," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(460), pages 273-91, January.
  13. Bird, Graham & Hussain, Mumtaz & Joyce, Joseph P., 2004. "Many happy returns? Recidivism and the IMF," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 231-251, March.
  14. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
  15. Mohsin S. Khan, 1990. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Fund-Supported Adjustment Programs," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 37(2), pages 195-231, June.
  16. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra E, 1997. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 605-54, October.
  17. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias, 2000. "Evaluation methods for non-experimental data," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(4), pages 427-468, January.
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