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The external debt-servicing constraint and public-expenditure composition in sub-Saharan Africa

  • Fosu, Augustin

In the light of the current global financial and economic crises, how would governments in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) allocate their budgets across sectors in response to a binding debt-servicing constraint? Within a framework of public-expenditure choice, the present paper estimates constraint-consistent debt-service ratios and employs them in Seemingly Unrelated Regression involving five-year panel for up to 35 African countries over 1975-94, a period preceding the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiatives. While observed debt service is found to be a poor predictor of expenditure allocation, constraining debt servicing shifts spending away from the social sector, with similar impacts on education and health. The implied partial elasticity of the sector’s expenditure share with respect to debt is estimated at 1.5, the highest responsiveness by far among all the explanatory variables considered, including external aid. Thus, if the social sector is to be protected, sufficient debt relief for SSA countries should be pursued.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 39238.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Publication status: Published in African Development Review 3.22(2010): pp. 378-393
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:39238
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  1. Augustin Kwasi Fosu, 2008. "Implications of the External Debt-servicing Constraint for Public Health Expenditure in Sub-Saharan Africa," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(4), pages 363-377.
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  9. Lim, David, 1983. "Instability of government revenue and expenditure in less developed countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 11(5), pages 447-450, May.
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  12. Heller, Peter S, 1975. "A Model of Public Fiscal Behavior in Developing Countries: Aid, Investment, and Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 429-45, June.
  13. Steven Craig & Robert P. Inman, 1986. "Education, Welfare and the "New" Federalism: State Budgeting in a Federalist Public Economy," NBER Chapters, in: Studies in State and Local Public Finance, pages 187-228 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Mauro, Paolo, 1998. "Corruption and the composition of government expenditure," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 263-279, June.
  16. Goel, Rajeev K & Nelson, Michael A, 1998. " Corruption and Government Size: A Disaggregated Analysis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 97(1-2), pages 107-20, October.
  17. Fosu, Augustin Kwasi, 2007. "Fiscal Allocation for Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: Implications of the External Debt Service Constraint," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 702-713, April.
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