The Review of International Organizations

, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 359–378 | Cite as

IMF program compliance: Aggregate index versus policy specific research strategies

  • James R. VreelandEmail author


Consensus has grown that the economic reform programs of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have failed to promote economic development. There is little consensus about how IMF programs should be reformed, however, because we do not understand why IMF programs have failed. Some critics contend that the IMF’s austere policy conditions are inappropriate for most program-countries and cause economic crises to deepen. Other critics argue that the policy conditions are actually ignored, and the IMF program loan ends up subsidizing the bad policies that caused the economic crises in the first place. This debate begs the compliance question. Unfortunately, the study of IMF compliance is not straightforward. IMF agreements span many dimensions, and the dimensions vary from agreement to agreement. Even along one dimension, governments are not held to the same standard. Rather than look at aggregate measures of compliance, this article proposes a return to studying specific conditions as was done in the earliest studies on IMF compliance.


IMF programs compliance program evaluation development selection 

JEL codes

F33 F34 F53 O19 C52 


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© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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