Journal of Asian Business and Economic Studies
Vol. 25(01) , April 2018, Page 144-162

The short and long run effects of debt reduction: Evidence from debt relief under the enhanced HIPC and MDR initiatives
Kelsey Gamel & Pham Hoang Van

DOI: 10.1108/JABES-04-2018-0008
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to estimate benefits to debt reduction by using the natural experiment provided by the debt relief programs: the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative launched by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in 1996 and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative extension in 2005. Design/methodology/approach – The authors apply a time-shifted difference-in-differences strategy to evaluate the effects of this intervention. The date of each country’s decision to participate in the program is used as one treatment point while the date of the completion of the debt relief program is used as another treatment point. The exercise compares different economic outcomes such as domestic and foreign investment, schooling, and employment of the treated observations to the counterfactual of untreated country-years. The period between the decision and completion points is a short run while the period after the completion point is considered a long run. Findings – The authors found that debt relief increased capital investment as much as 1.63 percent in the short run and 5.79 percent in the long run. However, there was no effect on foreign direct investment suggesting that debt overhang does not affect incentives of foreign investors. Output and schooling enrollment increased both in the short and long run. Originality/value – This paper exploits a natural experiment of debt relief in a number of developing countries to shed light on the possible benefits to debt reduction. The authors are able to separate the short- and long-run effects of debt reduction. The finding that domestic but not foreign investment responds to debt reduction is suggestive of the differences in incentives across these two sources of investment.

Debt overhang, Debt relief, Sovereign debt
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