IMF programs and human rights, 1981–2003

  • M. Rodwan AbouharbEmail author
  • David L. Cingranelli


We examined the effects of International Monetary Fund (IMF) supervised programs on changes in government respect for physical integrity rights in developing countries between 1981 and 2003. A longer period under an IMF program increased government use of torture and extra judicial killing and also worsened the overall human rights conditions in developing countries. The use of a two-stage model ruled out the possibility that human rights practices would have worsened even if IMF programs had not been in effect. Previous studies of the impacts of IMF programs also found that they had worsened government respect for human rights. However, those studies did not control for the effects of selection. We found preliminary evidence that the worsened human rights conditions persisted even after the reforms in program lending of the late 1990s.


International Monetary Fund Conditionality Human rights Physical integrity rights 

JEL Codes

F33 F34 F35 F53 F55 F59 



We would like to thank David Clark, Axel Dreher, David Sobek, Randall Stone and James Vreeland for their comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. This research was supported by a grant (No.SES-0318273) from the Political Science Division of the National Science Foundation.

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© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science, 240 Stubbs HallLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceBinghamton UniversityBinghamtonUSA

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