When Do Governments Improve Fiscal Institutions?: Lessons from Financial Crisis and Fiscal Reform in Latin America


Do crises really lead to more institutional reforms? This paper explores the connection between financial crises and one type of reform frequently advocated during the recent global financial crisis, namely, fiscal institutional reforms. Some authors expect that crises lead to reforms, but we demonstrate that the relationship is not so straightforward. Using a data set of Latin American countries that experienced several crises and also several periods of reform in the period from 1990 to 2005, we find that the type of crisis and its duration matter. We argue that reforms are less likely during a banking crisis, whereas fiscal crises are most likely to lead to fiscal reforms. This means that the type of economic crisis is important for explaining the likelihood of reforms. We explore other possible explanations for reform, such as the partisanship of the president and whether a country is under an IMF program, and do not find confirming evidence for alternative explanations.