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Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-05-18) Acosta, Pablo A. ; Almeida, Rita ; Gindling, Thomas ; Lao Pena, ChristineCentral America has come a long way both in terms of economic and political stability. Increasingly the region is focusing on implementing productivity-enhancing reforms as well as supporting reductions in poverty and inequality. This report analyzes recent trends in public social spending in Central America from 2007 to 2014, conducts international benchmarking, examines measures of the effectiveness and efficiency of social spending, and discusses the quality of selected institutions influencing this spending. We examine total social spending, as well as detailing its four components: public spending on the education, health, and social protection and labor (SPL) sectors. In analyzing public social spending, the report addresses three crucial policy issues: (a) how to improve the coverage and redistributional incidence of public social spending; (b) how to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of public social spending; and (c) how to strengthen the institutions governing public spending in the social sector. While based heavily on a series of recent analytical social spending studies in six countries in the subregion—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama—this report also takes a broader regional perspective and includes some comparisons to countries in other regions.
Publication(Washington, DC, 2015-06-29) World BankEl Salvador’s development over the past decade has been dichotomous. On the one hand, economic growth has remained persistently low, employment and labor force participation have barely increased, and progress on poverty reduction has slowed. On the other hand, inequality has fallen, and shared prosperity improved together with advances in many social indicators, such as pre-primary enrollment rates, access to prenatal care, immunizations, and water and sanitation. The increase in the use of social spending, which now accounts for 12.4 percent of GDP, together with an improvement in the quality of social spending, explain at least part of this dichotomy of redistributive and social gains despite low growth, a tight fiscal situation and generally low government revenues and spending. Looking forward, the key challenges El Salvador faces are related to continuing improving the quality and efficiency in the social sectors, while maintaining the overall level of social spending within an increasingly constrained fiscal environment, where fiscal constraints, low revenues, and the need to cut the deficit by 3 percent of GDP are significant elements, as well. Priority will have to be given to reallocations and improvements within the spending envelope for the social sectors to maximize impact. This document analyzes social spending for El Salvador for the education, health and social protection and labor sectors in depth and explores a series of policy options for El Salvador to reallocate social spending for more effective impacts, to enhance and reform social policies and social service delivery, and to improve the management of public spending and budget execution in the social sectors.