BOOK TALK IMF Lending: Partisanship, Punishment, and Protest

Abstract: IMF Lending argues that governments allocate adjustment burdens strategically to protect their supporters, imposing adjustment costs upon the supporters of their opponents, who then protest in response. Using large-N micro-level survey data from three world regions and a global survey, it discusses the local political economy of International Monetary Fund (IMF) lending. It finds that opposition supporters in countries under IMF structural adjustment programs (SAPs) are more likely to report that the IMF SAPs increased economic hardships than government supporters and countries without IMF exposure. In addition, it finds that partisan gaps in IMF SAP evaluations widen in IMF program countries with an above-median number of conditions, suggesting that opposition supporters face heavier adjustment burdens, and that opposition supporters who think SAPs made their lives worse are more likely to protest. The authors illustrate their argument by discussing the interaction between IMF conditionality and distributional politics in brief case studies from Ghana and Kenya.

Author bios:

Rodwan Abouharb is an Associate Professor of Political Science at UCL. He received his graduate degrees in Political Science from University at Buffalo (MA) and Binghamton University (PhD). His research places particular emphasis on understanding how both domestic and international socio-economic processes affect the human security of citizens around the world. His first book, co-authored with David Cingranelli, explores the human rights consequences of World Bank and IMF structural adjustment lending within states. His research is published by Cambridge University Press, Journal of Politics, Review of International Organisations, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Peace Research, and Journal of Human Rights, amongst others.

Bernhard Reinsberg is a Reader in Politics and International Relations at the University of Glasgow and a Research Associate in Political Economy at the Centre for Business Research at the University of Cambridge. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Zurich, an MA in Comparative and International Studies at ETH Zurich and BA degrees in Political Science (Freie Universität Berlin) and Mathematics (University in Hagen). His research is on the political economy of international organisations—such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund—and seeks to contribute to a better understanding of what drives their behaviour and when their development interventions are effective. As awardee of a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship, he examines the impact of earmarked funding to international organisations on their ability to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.