Social protection and the International Monetary Fund: promise versus performance

Countries in the Global South are currently facing momentous economic and social challenges, including major debt service problems. As in previous periods of global financial instability, a growing number of countries have turned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for financial assistance. The organization has a long track-record of advocating for extensive fiscal consolidation—commonly known as ‘austerity’—for its borrowers. However, in recent years, the IMF has announced major initiatives for ensuring that its loans support social spending, thus aiding countries in meeting their development targets and the Sustainable Development Goals. To assess this track record, we collected spending data on 21 loans signed in the 2020–2022 period, including from all their periodic reviews up to August 2023.