The Political Economy of Structural Adjustment: IMF Conditionality, 1986-2011

This research project creates a systematic and publically available database of macroeconomic and structural conditions in all IMF loan agreements signed after 1987.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been the key international institution entrusted with the role of “providing the global public good of financial stability.” Of its many activities, its lending practices to countries in need have brought it to the center of many controversies. The main contentious point regards the Fund’s power to attach conditions to its loans, making disbursements subject to fulfilling specified criteria. The content, number, and objectives of conditions included in Fund loans have brought it under severe attack from many fronts. Much of the academic debate around IMF loans moved forward through quantitative analyses measuring participation in Fund programs as a binary variable or by emphasizing a few case studies where the Fund has been particularly successful or unsuccessful. This project provides a comprehensive, detailed, and transparent database of IMF conditionality covering 25 years of countries’ experience and the universe of agreements signed. Using newly available data, the database enables fine-grained examinations of the Fund’s activities, revisiting previous findings and shedding light on some important but under-researched IMF activities. By making the database publically available with full documentation and the codebook, students of the Fund will have access to detailed information on program conditions, useful both for quantitative analyses and as a starting point for in-depth qualitative investigations of specific policy areas.