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Governments Should Consider Social Impacts Of Austerity Measures, U.N. Report Says

In the wake of the 2008-09 financial crisis, many country’s governments could be undermining economic recovery by implementing austerity measures such as cuts in spending on health, education and other social programs, which “threaten to turn back decades of social progress, block new job creation and derail efforts to eradicate poverty” in both developed and developing nations, according to a United Nations report (.pdf) published Wednesday, Reuters reports (Evans, 6/22).

The report “stressed that ‘it is essential that governments take into account the likely social implications of their economic policies,'” and “[i]t also criticized lending conditions set by institutions such as the IMF,” according to Agence France-Presse/Philippine Daily Inquirer. “The report noted that 31 out of 41 agreements with the IMF included pro-cyclical policies – such as cuts in fiscal deficits – which could exacerbate a slowdown,” the news service writes (6/22). In addition, the report said “economic policies considered in isolation from their social outcomes can have dire consequences for poverty, employment, nutrition, health and education, which, in turn, adversely affect long-term sustainable development,” according to the U.N. News Centre (6/22).