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

Reinsberg, Bernhard; Abouharb, M Rodwan; (2022) Partisanship, protection, and punishment: how governments affect the distributional consequences of International Monetary Fund programs. Review of International Political Economy 10.1080/09692290.2022.2126513. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

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.

Type: Article
Title: Partisanship, protection, and punishment: how governments affect the distributional consequences of International Monetary Fund programs
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/09692290.2022.2126513
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/09692290.2022.2126513
Language: English
Additional information: � 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: International Monetary Fund; conditionality; structural adjustment; Afrobarometer; Sub-Saharan Africa; neopatrimonialism; partisan alignment; distributional conflict
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10158446
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