Uncovered: the role of the IMF in shrinking the social protection - Case studies from Tunisia, Jordan and Morocco

This book aims to evaluate some of the main approaches that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has pursued in Arab countries in the name of furthering social protection. The past 10 years (2011-2021) have constituted a unique decade for a number of reasons. This book comes at a crucial moment due to the combination of three factors in particular. Firstly, this was of course a time when popular demands for greater equality, dignity, social justice, and ending corruption came to the forefront. The region had achieved moderate to high growth rates during the decade leading up to what was at first called the Arab Spring, while rates of unemployment, especially among youth, remained the highest in the world. Meanwhile, rates of poverty continued to rise, or at the very least, remained constant in most countries in the region, especially non-oil-exporting countries. Secondly, public debt accelerated during this decade, especially foreign debt. In the wake of these wide-reaching uprisings, and perhaps in an effort to preclude further unrest, many countries in the Arab world were quick to take on foreign loans. They hoped this would provide relatively more fiscal space to meet demands for social justice. The period from 2011 to 2021, which is the focus of this study, was characterized by dependence on foreign debt. The main driver behind this trend was the IMF: the Fund distributed hard-currency loans, and its experts could approve or reject policies adopted by the countries receiving its loans.