Partisanship, protection, and punishment: how governments affect the distributional consequences of International Monetary Fund programs

Reinsberg, B. and Abouharb, M. R. (2022) Partisanship, protection, and punishment: how governments affect the distributional consequences of International Monetary Fund programs. Review of International Political Economy, (doi: 10.1080/09692290.2022.2126513) (Early Online Publication)

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How do governments allocate the burden of adjustment of reform programs sponsored by international financial institutions? While the political economy literature is ripe with theoretical arguments about this issue, we have a limited empirical understanding of the distributional effects of these programs, except for a few informative case studies. We argue that governments allocate adjustment burdens strategically to protect their own partisan supporters while seeking to impose adjustment costs upon the partisan supporters of their opponents. Using hitherto under-explored individual-level Afrobarometer survey data from 12 Sub-Saharan African countries, we employ large-N analysis to show that individuals have consistently more negative evaluations and experiences of IMF structural adjustment programs when they supported opposition parties compared to when they supported the government party. Partisan differences in evaluations are greater when governments have greater scope for distributional politics, such as in the public sector and where programs entail more quantitative performance criteria, which leave governments discretion about how to achieve IMF program targets. Negative evaluations are also more prevalent among ethnically powerless groups compared to ethnically powerful groups. These results emphasize the significant role of borrowing governments in the implementation of IMF-mandated policy measures. They also stress the benefits of reducing the number of IMF conditions in limiting the scope for harmful distributive politics.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Early Online Publication
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Reinsberg, Dr Bernhard
Authors: Reinsberg, B., and Abouharb, M. R.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:Review of International Political Economy
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN (Online):1466-4526
Published Online:26 October 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in Review of International Political Economy 2022
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence
Data DOI:10.7910/DVN/INTTLH

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