The Age of Austerity: A Review of Public Expenditures and Adjustment Measures in 181 Countries

60 Pages Posted: 5 May 2013

See all articles by Isabel Ortiz

Isabel Ortiz

United Nations - International Labour Organization (ILO); Initiative for Policy Dialogue

Matthew Cummins


Date Written: March 24, 2013


This paper: (i) examines the latest IMF government spending projections for 181 countries by comparing the four distinct periods of 2005-07 (pre-crisis), 2008-09 (crisis phase I: fiscal expansion), 2010-12 (crisis phase II: onset of fiscal contraction) and 2013-15 (crisis phase III: intensification of fiscal contraction); (ii) reviews 314 IMF country reports in 174 countries to identify the main adjustment measures considered in high-income and developing countries; (iv) discusses the threats of austerity to development goals and social progress; and (v) calls for urgent action by governments to adopt alternative and equitable policies for socio-economic recovery.

Keywords: public expenditures, fiscal consolidation, fiscal contraction, austerity measures, crisis recovery, social impacts, wage bill, subsidies, pension reforms, labor flexibilization, rationalization social protection

JEL Classification: H5, H12, O23, H5, I3, J3

Suggested Citation

Ortiz, Isabel and Cummins, Matthew, The Age of Austerity: A Review of Public Expenditures and Adjustment Measures in 181 Countries (March 24, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Isabel Ortiz (Contact Author)

United Nations - International Labour Organization (ILO) ( email )

ILO HQ, Route des Morillons 4
Geneva, 1211
+41227996226 (Phone)


Initiative for Policy Dialogue ( email )

Columbia University
New York, NY
United States


Matthew Cummins

UNICEF ( email )

PO Box 44145
Nairobi, Nairobi 00100

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