In a recent article, Benedict Clements, Sanjeev Gupta, and Masahiro Nozaki find evidence that International Monetary Fund (IMF) programmes increase social spending in the least developed countries (LDCs). The finding is unexpected, since earlier studies demonstrated an unequivocal relationship in the opposite direction (i.e. that IMF programmes reduce social spending). This note discusses why there might be contradictory conclusions in the literature. Particularly, I argue that social spending increases in a specific IMF programme type, namely Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) programmes. Those programmes are precisely designed for LDCs and envisage an increase in targeted spending in health and education. In other types of programmes such as Stand-by Arrangements or Extended Fund Facility on the other hand we do …
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