From 1999 to 2015, Moldova went from a 36% extreme poverty rate to zero, effectively ending extreme poverty in Moldova. By analyzing Moldova’s poverty reduction strategies, organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank can form a blueprint to fight extreme poverty globally.
IMF Focus on Poverty Reduction
In 2000, the IMF instituted a three-pronged approach for ending extreme poverty in Moldova, which involved major reforms in governance and the public sector. Economic development, health care changes, educational developments and social safety nets were the primary focus to kickstart growth in the country.
- The IMF’s focus on economic development revolved around public spending and the lack of private business. Aside from ensuring fiscal responsibility from the government, government retirement plans and debt were swallowing the country’s budgetary resources. The IMF advised Moldova to revise its tax system to be more equitable while strengthening its private sector by easing regulations and tax burdens on small and medium businesses.
- Education was a foundational part of the reform process. The IMF ensured Moldova improved its education system through guidance from the World Bank. The primary focus was on improving education standards and increasing the availability of secondary education to needy students.
- The health sector developed more substantial healthcare access to reduce long-term expenses and to involve the private sector.
- Developing better social safety nets was a key pillar for the IMF in Moldova. Most importantly, the goal of the program is to keep children out of poverty. This included food security and funding to access human development services. Also on the agenda was reforming the nation’s pension system to protect aging populations.
The Impact of Changes in Moldova
These changes were to undergo implementation by no later than 2003 and most changes are ongoing. How well did the changes work? In 2000, Moldova’s GDP per capita was at $1,439 and by 2019 the GDP per capita rose to $3,715, doubling the nation’s economic growth. The secondary education enrollment rate was 48% in 1999 and grew to an 86% enrollment rate by 2019. Though absolute poverty remains high, these strategies were instrumental in ending extreme poverty in Moldova. Even by 2006, the extreme poverty rate was down to 4.5%.
The World Bank’s Evaluation
The World Bank processed an analysis from 2007 to 2014 using data to determine how ending extreme poverty in Moldova was effective. Compared to most of Europe, Moldova is still impoverished, but extreme poverty no longer plagued the country by 2014. There were four primary factors that the World Bank determined to be the cause of this success. Economic expansion, advanced opportunities for workers, better retirement fiscal responsibility for aging populations and international work being funneled back into Moldova’s economy, were the most effective tools for alleviating extreme poverty.
- Despite a setback during the financial crisis in 2009, Moldova has seen steady GDP growth up until the COVID-19 pandemic. Of significant note is that Moldova showed continued growth rather than the ups and downs that the most impoverished nations experienced. Moldova’s commitment to attaining the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and effectively using guidance from the World Bank and IMF are reasons for this growth. Responsible governance and low corruption were instrumental in ending extreme poverty in Moldova.
- Moldova’s workforce lowered from 2007 to 2014, primarily due to migration; however, wage growth was significant in jobs outside of the agricultural sector. Growth in food processing, manufacturing and ICT industry jobs increased wages exponentially, while the agricultural sector still struggled. These higher-skill jobs are attributable to the country’s focus on improving secondary education access, as outlined by the IMF, providing upward mobility.
- Responsible pension disbursement was a chief agent for ending extreme poverty in Moldova. The significant increase in distributions to aging rural citizens living in extreme poverty was an essential investment by Moldova’s government.
- The World Bank also found that after the economic crisis, remittances from Moldovan migrant workers sent back disposable income. Most of these migrants were from low-income rural areas of Moldova. From 2007 to 2014, rural households’ disposable income from migrant transfers rose from 16% to 23%. In Moldova, remittances played a considerable role in poverty reduction.
Using Moldova as a Blueprint Worldwide
Evaluating the success in ending extreme poverty in Moldova helps pave the way to implement similar strategies globally. So, what is the blueprint for ending extreme poverty?
- The most crucial aspect is government accountability and a strong commitment to attain Millennium Development Goals. Strong oversight to prevent corruption and ensure fiscal responsibility to follow through with plans that organizations like the United Nations, the World Bank and the IMF laid out.
- A commitment to make secondary education more accessible, especially in rural areas, advances what a nation’s workforce is capable of and helps create job and wage growth.
- Protecting vulnerable populations by distributing funds where they are most necessary reduces extreme poverty.
- The success of remittances in Moldova is a necessary imperative. An analysis across countries worldwide shows the significant poverty reduction effects of remittances.
Ending Extreme Poverty by 2030
The U.N. aims to end extreme poverty by 2030, and when looking at Moldova’s success, it is not an outrageously unrealistic goal. With fiscal oversight, dedication to protecting the impoverished and the world’s willingness to engage, extreme poverty can disappear.
– Zachary Kunze