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Social and Economic Reform

One of the major concerns in the context of economic reforms has been the development of the social sector. Social issues have been the focus of various researches in the wake of economic reforms around the globe. Economic reforms worldwide have made structural adjustments to address social issues.
This is even more relevant for developing economies.

Economic reforms in these countries, in recent times have sought to address plaguing social concerns like -
  • Poverty
  • Malnutrition
  • Mortality Rates
  • Illiteracy, etc.


In many underdeveloped economies, especially in African countries specific Social Action Programs (SAPs) have been introduced in economic reforms to ensure sustained development in the social sector. In Asian and Latin American countries too, special efforts have been made to ensure social sector development in the wake of economic reforms.
Such initiatives are focused in the areas of -
  • Creating employment opportunities with special emphasis on job opportunities for unskilled workers. Employment opportunities for unskilled laborers can be created specially in heavy industries with the implementation of effective economic reforms. This helps to bring down the general level of poverty and helps to raise the average standard of living in the society.
  • Providing basic social facilities like health-care education, etc. These efforts are directed to provide better living conditions especially to the rural poor. Initiatives like proper sanitary conditions, eradication of illiteracy contribute significantly to social development.

Several key areas of social development are addressed by economic reforms. Significant among them are -
  • Health, nutrition and family welfare.
  • Poverty and employment
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Regional development
  • Infrastructure development

Health, nutrition and family welfare
The health sector is one of the key concerns of social development. A society with plaguing health problems can rarely achieve economic growth. Economic reforms in developing countries have taken serious note of the health issues. Most third world economies have been affected by malnutrition, lack of proper medical treatment and absence of well formulated family welfare programs. These have been addressed by economic reforms. Economic reforms have opened up opportunities of investment in the health sector. Private initiatives in the health sector have augmented the quality of healthcare services. Also flow of medical information and medical services across countries have led to further development in the health sector. Introduction of health insurance schemes in many developing nations is another significant initiative in this area.
Poverty and employment
Economic reforms have had a major impact in expansion of employment opportunities. The poverty issue too has been addressed by economic reforms by introducing Structural Adjustment Programs with extensive initiatives by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The average level of income and standard of living has improved significantly in many developing countries as a result of economic reforms.
Education
Education is another area that has gained significantly from economic reforms. Widespread private investment has been observed in the education sector in many economies implementing economic reforms. This helps in wide expansion of higher education. On the other hand, in the wake of reforms, NGOs have the opportunity of spreading literacy programs and education for adults.
Environment
The effects of economic reforms on environment can be traced to the following factors -
  • Technology - With expansion of economic activities due to economic reforms, the environment may be affected. However economic reforms help in the use of proper environment friendly technology that helps to maintain ecological balance if used properly.
  • Investment - with the level of economic activity in a country increasing there in wider scope of investing in environment projects.
  • Specialization - With economic reforms comes trade liberalization. A country can focus on producing goods and services where it has comparative advantages. This would lead to less exploitation of scarce resources in a country.

Regional Development
Economic reforms help to spread the benefits accrued to the economy. Industries and business industries can be spread to lesser developed areas. Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are an initiative to this end. Regional imbalances are lessened by such initiatives. China has been highly successful in spreading the benefits of growth and development from economic reforms to even remote areas of the country.
Infrastructure development
Economic reforms help in infrastructure development. Transport, Communication, Information have gained significantly from economic reforms in terms of infrastructure development. Private investment in these areas has played a major role in such development.

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Last Updated on : 26th June 2013

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