IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Public Finance for Poverty Reduction: An Overview


  • Moreno-Dodson, Blanca
  • Wodon, Quentin


Governments in low-income countries have the difficult task of making wide-ranging decisions about public spending, taxation, and borrowing with the aim of helping their countries maintain long-term debt sustainability, achieve higher economic growth, and ultimately reduce poverty. Making such decisions is difficult because it involves considering multiple trade-offs. There are at least four reasons why designing and implementing fiscal policies that contribute to growth and poverty reduction are particularly challenging tasks in developing countries. First, private-market failures are widespread and often unpredictable. Second, government and institutional failures also limit the effectiveness of public interventions. Third, raising public revenues is difficult in a context of macroeconomic and growth instability, high debt ratios, weak tax administration, and large informal sectors. Finally, many developing countries lack the data necessary to conduct a thorough analysis of the effect of government policies on the poor segments of the population. Despite those challenges, however, the budget remains one of the most important instruments (together with laws and regulations) that governments have at their disposal to foster poverty reduction. Policy makers in both developing and developed countries, as well as nongovernmental or-ganizations and providers of aid, can benefit from a deeper understanding of how internally or externally financed public funds channeled through the budget can be used more successfully to benefit the poor in a realistic manner. This paper, which serves as an introduction to an edited volume on "Public Finance for Poverty Reduction" starts with a brief discussion of the rationale behind the role of the government in public finance. Then we discuss some of the limitations faced by governments in developing countries. We follow those discussions with an overview of the nature and structure of the material presented in the book and with our thoughts on germane topics yet to be addressed adequately.

Suggested Citation

  • Moreno-Dodson, Blanca & Wodon, Quentin, 2008. "Public Finance for Poverty Reduction: An Overview," MPRA Paper 11078, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:11078

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. berlage, Lodewijk & cassimon, Danny & dreze, Jacques & Reding, Paul, 2003. "Prospective Aid and Indebtedness Relief: A Proposal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(10), pages 1635-1654, October.
    2. Nancy Birdsall & John Williamson, 2002. "Delivering on Debt Relief: From IMF Gold to a New Aid Architecture," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 337.
    3. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2002. "Resolving the Debt Crisis of Low-Income Countries," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(1), pages 257-286.
    4. John T. Cuddington, 1997. "Analysing the Sustainability of Fiscal Deficits in Developing Countries," International Finance 9706001, EconWPA.
    5. Aart Kraay & Vikram Nehru, 2006. "When Is External Debt Sustainable?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 20(3), pages 341-365.
    6. Nicolas Depetris Chauvin & Aart Kraay, 2005. "What Has 100 Billion Dollars Worth of Debt Relief Done for Low- Income Countries?," International Finance 0510001, EconWPA.
    7. Krugman, Paul, 1988. "Financing vs. forgiving a debt overhang," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 253-268, November.
    8. Helene Poirson Ward & Luca A Ricci & Catherine A Pattillo, 2004. "What Are the Channels Through Which External Debt Affects Growth?," IMF Working Papers 04/15, International Monetary Fund.
    9. Raffer, Kunibert, 1990. "Applying chapter 9 insolvency to international debts: An economically efficient solution with a human face," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 301-311, February.
    10. Catherine Pattillo & Hélène Poirson & Luca Antonio Ricci, 2011. "External Debt and Growth," Review of Economics and Institutions, Università di Perugia, vol. 2(3).
    11. Claessens, Stijn, 1990. "The debt laffer curve: Some estimates," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 18(12), pages 1671-1677, December.
    12. Yan M Sun, 2004. "External Debt Sustainability in HIPC Completion Point Countries," IMF Working Papers 04/160, International Monetary Fund.
    13. William Easterly, 1999. "When is fiscal adjustment an illusion?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 14(28), pages 55-86, April.
    14. Diwan, I. & Rodrik, D., 1992. "External Debt, Adjustment, and Burden Sharing: A Unified Framework," Princeton Studies in International Economics 73, International Economics Section, Departement of Economics Princeton University,.
    15. Nicolas Depetris Chauvin & Aart Kraay, 2007. "Who Gets Debt Relief?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(2-3), pages 333-342, 04-05.
    16. Cohen, Daniel, 1996. "The sustainability of African debt," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1621, The World Bank.
    17. Ley, Eduardo, 2009. "Fiscal (and external) sustainability," MPRA Paper 13693, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Peter Hjertholm, 2003. "Theoretical and empirical foundations of HIPC debt sustainability targets," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(6), pages 67-100.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Jorge Martínez-Vázquez & Violeta Vulovic & Blanca Moreno Dodson, 2012. "The Impact of Tax and Expenditure Policies on Income Distribution: Evidence from a Large Panel of Countries," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 200(1), pages 95-130, March.
    2. Richard M. Bird & Eric M. Zolt, 2014. "Taxation and inequality in the Americas: Changing the fiscal contract?," Chapters,in: Taxation and Development: The Weakest Link?, chapter 7, pages 193-237 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Duncan, Denvil & Peter, Klara Sabirianova, 2012. "Unequal Inequalities: Do Progressive Taxes Reduce Income Inequality?," IZA Discussion Papers 6910, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Iris Claus & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & VIoleta Vulovic, 2012. "Government Fiscal Policies and Redistribution in Asian Countries," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1213, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    5. David Patiño Rodríguez, 2011. "La incidencia del gasto público en educación sobre la distribución del bienestar económico en España," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 199(4), pages 119-148, December.
    6. Robert Boutilier, 2009. "Globalization and the Careers of Mexican Knowledge Workers: An Exploratory Study of Employer and Worker Adaptations," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 88(2), pages 319-333, September.
    7. Essama-Nssah, B., 2008. "Assessing the redistributive effect of fiscal policy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4592, The World Bank.
    8. Yongzheng Liu & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez, 2010. "The Growth-Inequality Tradeo in the Design of Tax Structure: Evidence from a Large Panel of Countries," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1320, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.

    More about this item


    Public finance; poverty reduction; taxation; debt sustainability; public expenditure; incidence analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:11078. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.