Saturday, October 3, 2009

Panel 1: Lessons learned in past crises and expectations for the current crisis

Panel 1: Lessons learned in past crises and expectations for the current crisis
Chair and opening presentation: Sanjeev Gupta, IMF

Dr. Sanjeev Gupta is Deputy Director in the Fiscal Affairs Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He was previously Senior Advisor in the Fiscal Affairs Department, Assistant Director in the African Department; Assistant Director and Chief in the Expenditure Policy Division of the Fiscal Affairs Department; and Economist in the European Department. Mr. Gupta has led IMF missions to over 20 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East and represented the IMF in numerous international meetings and seminars. In the fiscal area, the missions have focused on public expenditure policy, pensions, fiscal decentralization, fiscal transparency, public financial management, and public-private partnerships.

Quantifying the impact of past financial crises on the health of children and households. Karen Grépin, NYU, USA.

Abstract: The global economic downturn (GED) of 2008-2009 has driven up the price of food, fuel and other essential commodities, has reduced wages and household incomes, and has threatened to reduce public spending on social programs in developing countries. It is widely believed that the financial crisis will adversely affect child health, potentially eroding some of the progress that has been made at reducing child mortality and delaying the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Previous studies have investigated the impact of aggregate income shocks on aggregate measures of child health across countries, or on changes to health seeking behavior in a number of country-case studies but few studies have investigated how aggregate income shock translate into changes in child mortality in a cross-country setting. Using data from all existing Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), I explore the effect of aggregate income shocks on infant mortality and household health seeking behavior using a cross-country, fixed-effects study design. I find that the utilization of health service is sensitive to aggregate economic shocks, in particular to the use of newer vaccines, antenatal care, and breastfeeding. These represent very preliminary estimates and future releases of this paper are expected in the coming weeks.

Karen Grépin is an Assistant Professor of Global Health Policy at New York University. Karen's research focuses on the economics and politics of health service delivery in developing countries, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Grépin has been a consultant to a number of international health organizations, including the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She also maintains a well-read global health blog: Grépin has published research articles on the organization of neglected tropical diseases control programs, including the future on onchocerciasis control in Africa and the integration of mass drug administration programs. She has forthcoming articles on the impact of a maternal health initiative in Ghana on health service utilization, the role of health development assistance in strengthening health systems in Sub-Saharan Africa, and human resources for health.

Impact of economic crisis on the well-being of children. Almudena Fernández, UNDP.

Abstract: Aggregate macroeconomic shocks have a direct impact on the welfare of households. The global crisis of 2008/2009 will be no exception, and the magnitude of these impacts will depend on the length of the crisis, the pace of the recovery and the social protection programs in place at the country level. This paper, based on the results of the project Crisis and MDGs in Latin America and the Caribbean, aims to measure the effects of the global recession on the well-being of children, taking into account the progress achieved in the region in social protection programs over the decades. The paper has two main components. First, it presents empirical analysis to estimate the relation between macroeconomic crises, defined as aggregate negative shocks, and social indicators at the local and household levels. Specifically, it estimates the impact of economic crises on child and maternal health, education and poverty in Argentina, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico and Peru.

The empirical analysis will be conducted using data from past crises and various methodologies including a difference-in-difference approach, to capture overall impacts of economic crises on the variables of interest; fixed effects models, to measure the effects of changes in GDP on outcome variables across states or regions within a country; an instrumental variable approach to fix endogeneity problems that might arise; and, where “high frequency” (monthly) data is available, a regression discontinuity design.

The second component of the paper estimates the role that social protection programs, already established in the region, will play as coping mechanisms to mitigate the long-term effects of the economic slowdown. Finally, the paper delivers a set of policy recommendations to help compensate for the likely welfare loss of children.

Almudena Fernández is a researcher on economic issues in the Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean (RBLAC) from de United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Before, she worked for the Instituto Libertad y Democracia at Lima where she was an economic analyst. She participated in the diagnostic of the economy in countries like Guatemala and Tanzania. She has worked at Washington D.C. as program associate for the project CHANGE from the Academy for Educational Development

The impact of the global economic crises on the socio-economic conditions of vulnerable groups in deprived societies. Dr. Prince Osei-Adjei, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana.

Abstract: The world now stands challenged by the most deterrent economic crises with its rippling untold impact on the socio-economic conditions of several economies and vulnerable groups within these economies. Financial slow-down affecting monetary expansion to both private and public enterprises, food shortages and hiking food and fuel prices have been key characteristics of the crises impacting the world economy today. However, this situation is no new experience in the socio-economic history of Africa particularly south of the Sahara. Many African countries gained independence with high expectations for rapid economic growth, poverty reduction and improvement in the living conditions of masses of their citizenry. Not long after independence however, several of these countries were hardly hit and engulfed in a serious socio-economic downturn. In the 1980’s specifically, Africa south of the Sahara experienced a serious economic crisis unprecedented in the history of the region. Signs of deterioration in the region became visible with manifold manifestations in the early 1970’s aggravating in the 1980’s.

The United Nations referred to the decade of the 1980’s as the “Lost Decade” for Africa, which necessitated the introduction and subsequent adoption of the Structural Adjustment Programme from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to help arrest the socio-economic crisis and restore overseas confidence in the region. The paper discusses the nature and dimensions of the 1980’s crises. It examines Ghana’s experience in the implementation of the policy recommendations to contain the crises, and emphasizes the socio-economic impact and cost of the adjustment policies and programmes on the vulnerable and affected groups in the country. Actions taken to mitigate the social cost and lessons from Ghana’s experience relevant to the most recent global economic crises
and its likely implications on the socio-economic conditions of children, youth and care-givers in vulnerable households in deprived communities are highlighted

Prince Osei-Adjei (PhD) is a community development expert, a founding member and the Director of Programmes for the Centre for Rural Research and Poverty Reduction, Ghana. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Geography and Rural Development from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana and is a research fellow of the Rural Research and Advocacy Group (RRAG).

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