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New in @socscimed: We study the impact of IMF structural adjustment programs on health in developing countries; w/ T Forster, @thomstubbs, L King

In short: IMF programs increase neonatal mortality & lower access to health systems.


Open-access: doi.org/10.1016/j.socs…
International organizations are broadcasting their commitment to aiding #SDG attainment. But might their actual policy advice hurt progress towards these goals? We look at the case of the #IMF.

IMF structural adjustment programs—mandating austerity, deregulation, liberalization, & privatization—have been the workhorse of neoliberal globalization. For the history of such policies, see here:


Can #health be impacted by structural adjustment programs?

Many possible channels, including the following links to health inequalities:
1. higher income inequality due to austerity
2. unhealthy diets due to trade liberalization
3. rising health costs due to privatization

Structural adjustment programs also sought to reform employment & working conditions, a key social determinant of health #SDOH.
* Limits or cuts to wages -> inability to pay for health services
* Reduction in the workforce -> unemployment
* Deregulation -> greater insecurity

We conducted regression analysis on a panel of 137 developing countries for 1980-2014.

Controlling for borrowing countries’ socio-economic circumstances, IMF structural adjustment conditions significantly lower health system access (#UHC) and increase neonatal mortality.

A closer look at labor market reforms: 34% of all IMF programs in 1980-2014 include at least one condition on labor markets.

Again, we find that labor market reforms contribute to lower health system access and higher neonatal mortality.

In short, we show that the IMF—a key advocate for ever-deepening international economic integration—has exacerbated health inequalities. The poor are affected the most!

Sadly, the Fund is yet to take responsibility for its actions and continues to prescribe harmful reforms. After decades of failure, it is high time to abandon these socially-damaging policies.

PS: Our findings echo those of just published @UNHumanRights report by @IEfinanceHRs that finds int'l financial institutions (like the IMF) complicit in human rights violations - incl. the right to health - in the context of retrogressive economic reforms undocs.org/A/74/178
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