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The Socioeconomic Impacts of Structural Adjustment

Brian F. Crisp and Michael J. Kelly
International Studies Quarterly
Vol. 43, No. 3 (Sep., 1999), pp. 533-552
Published by: Wiley on behalf of International Studies Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2600942
Page Count: 20
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The Socioeconomic Impacts of Structural Adjustment
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Abstract

The 1980s were painful years of structural adjustment during which many developing countries abandoned statist economic models in favor of market-oriented paradigms. The proponents of structural adjustment, including international lending agencies such as the IMF and World Bank, argued that reforms were necessary to restore growth and curtail inflation. The opponents of adjustment claimed its macroeconomic results were not a foregone conclusion and, regardless of them, such changes would drastically affect the already precarious position of the poor. We use data from sixteen Latin American cases to examine the socioeconomic impacts of structural adjustment. Adjustment was weakly associated with growth, and reform did seem to reduce inflation. Counterintuitively, the extent of structural adjustment appears to be negatively associated with both poverty and inequality. Finally, empirical data show that low levels of growth or even mere economic stability are the best remedy for poverty and inequality.

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