Do people get what they want? IMF programs, popular demand for liberalism, and neoliberal economic policies
April 28th, 2022, from 12h to 13h30, on Zoom
Do people get what they want? In particular, do citizens’ get the economic policies they want? Our questions links to a large literature which seeks to understand how accountable politicians are to the demands of their citizens. An important factor that has been omitted so far concerns the policy pressures governments face from International Economic Organisations like the IMF. Governments may need to borrow funds from the IMF to maintain their financial stability. We argue that the Fund may use these moments to secure agreements with governments, moving them beyond their economic comfort zones, to liberalise areas of the economy in return for financial support and the Fund’s seal of approval. Greater Fund involvement increases the likelihood that the Fund’s economic preferences take precedence over those of citizens, potentially creating a gap between the economic policies people want and what they get. We utilise survey level data across 75 countries and link the amount of time spent under IMF adjustment lending to the size of gap between peoples preferences towards market liberalism and the extent of economic liberalism in government policy. We find states which spend more than thirty percent of their time under adjustment lending move beyond the economic liberalism preferences of their citizens, creating a gap between the economic policies that people want and what they get.
- M. Rodwan Abouharb (University College London (UCL))
- David L. Cingranelli (Binghamton University)
- Bernhard Reinsberg (University of Glasgow, University of Cambridge, Centre for Business Research)