The IMF’s Consumption Function

The title of this post is an economics and public health pun in very poor taste. But the story behind it is fairly unsavoury too.

Two academics, David Stuckler at Cambridge University and Sanjay Basu at Yale recently looked into the effects of the IMF’s policy impacts on public service reform in the former Soviet Union, using tuberculosis as an indicator. Their full results are here, but here’s the bottom line:

After correcting for confounding variables, as well as potential detection, selection, and ecological biases, we observed that participating in an IMF program was associated with increased tuberculosis incidence, prevalence, and mortality rates by 13.9%, 13.2%, and 16.6%, respectively.

Which should give pause when we hear that the IMF is stepping in to solve Africa’s hunger crisis.