IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Are the poor protected from budget cuts? theory and evidence for Argentina

Listed author(s):
  • Ravallion,Martin

Adjustment programs often emphasize protecting social spending - especially pro-poor spending - from cuts. Yet the incidence of fiscal contraction - and hence the case for action to protect public spending on the poor at a time of overall fiscal austerity - is an empirical question, which the author addresses using data from Argentina. Aggregate budget cuts in Argentina in the 1980s and 1990s, typically brought proportionately greater cuts in social spending."Non-social"spending was protected. But proportionate cuts for types of social spending that matter more to the poor, were about the same as the cuts for those that tend to favor the non-poor. Absolute cuts were in fact greater for"social insurance"that matters more to the non-poor. But spending on targeted social assistance, and employment programs, was more vulnerable to aggregate spending cuts, than were more universal social services. Social spending was clearly exposed to fiscalcontraction, but this was somewhat less true of pro-poor spending on things that also benefited the non-poor. So fine targeting may be a mixed blessing for the poor, bringing greater vulnerability to cuts, possibly when help is most needed. There is a strong case for action to protect pro-poor social spending at such times. An externally financed work-fare scheme in Argentina was far better targeted than other social spending, but still had to ensure that a small, but relatively well-protected share of the benefits went to the non-poor. The program was clearly subject to the same political economy constraints that influenced the incidence of past fiscal contractions in Argentina. The program expanded into poor areas when the budget increased, but retreated from poor areas when the program was cut. It was the program's disbursements to non-poor areas that were protected. Still, given the low wage rate offered, the direct benefits from the program were still likely to have favored the poor, even after the cuts.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2391.

in new window

Date of creation: 31 Jul 2000
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2391
Contact details of provider: Postal:
1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20433

Phone: (202) 477-1234
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. Lanjouw, Peter & Ravallion, Martin, 1998. "Benefit incidence and the timing of program capture," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1956, The World Bank.
  2. De Donder, Philippe & Hindriks, Jean, 1998. "The Political Economy of Targeting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1-2), pages 177-200, April.
  3. Martin Ravallion, 1999. "Is More Targeting Consistent with Less Spending?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 6(3), pages 411-419, August.
  4. van de Walle, Dominique, 1998. "Targeting Revisited," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 13(2), pages 231-248, August.
  5. Ravallion, Martin, 1999. "Appraising Workfare," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 14(1), pages 31-48, February.
  6. Ravallion, Martin, 2000. "Monitoring Targeting Performance When Decentralized Allocations to the Poor Are Unobserved," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 14(2), pages 331-345, May.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2391. 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: (Roula I. Yazigi)

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.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.