Where can I find information on government expenditure? Middle East!
July 27, 2011 8:50 AM   Subscribe

Expert googler help needed!

I'm posting this question to help out a friend, and to give a mini-challenge for fellow mefites out there! If you have no idea about answering the question, any useful resources that I could search or post this question would be helpful !(maybe there are more relevant forums out there, but I'm not sure where to start).

So here goes:

"I need to find data(statistics) regarding government expenditure on social protection (not social spending in general). Social protection includes: Social insurance and social safety nets. I need to find the share each represents of social protection. I have data like this but only up to the year 2004 for certain countries from the WB.

The aim is to see the financial sustainability of social protection systems in ESCWA countries (Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Oman, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Iraq, Palestine, Sudan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia) So i have to see the spending as a percentage to GDP, of total spending.

I need to find social protection spending on pension, disability and unemployment. The latter 3 countries only have unemployment schemes. I found how much Bahrain puts in to the unemployment fund from its budget.

The most data i have found are on Bahrain and Jordan.

If you can find what I am looking for then I will rank you among the geniuses of the world!"
posted by theJigsawLady to Law & Government (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: In case I wasn't clear enough, only data from 2005 onwards is relevant!
posted by theJigsawLady at 8:53 AM on July 27, 2011

This is exactly the kind of question that a reference librarian at a good library should be able to help you with. I know this is a meta-answer, but as Thomas Mann writes in the Oxford Guide to Library Research, a good part of research skill is knowing where to look in the first place, and reference librarians are experts in that.
posted by brianogilvie at 8:55 AM on July 27, 2011

The New York Public Library still maintains a reference helpline - maybe try them?
posted by Mchelly at 9:26 AM on July 27, 2011

I agree. If your friend has access to a university library, or a good public system, then this is the perfect question to pose to a subject specialist in the field of political science or international policy. Usually library sites will have direct email addresses that you can send a question like this to, or you can contact the reference desk and ask to be directed to a subject specialist. They'll have access to databases and print resources (and, more importantly, years of tacit knowledge in the field) that others won't.

Still, I couldn't help but try to find something. Is this the information you already have from the World Bank? Checking their sources it looks like they mostly pull from after 2005 (with some exceptions) and the study itself was published in 2008. Most of the countries you listed are mentioned.

Does your friend have any research already done? If you can find papers that they're already using for research in a database, then you can often search by "articles that cite this paper", which will assist in bringing up other, related publications.

You can also use the bibliographies of research you've already done to try to back track and find where they got their information from. You can then run more searches using those titles (changing the years around on regularly issued reports) to try and find more current data.
posted by codacorolla at 9:35 AM on July 27, 2011

Also, I have to run, but I did find one promising lead:
UNICEF: Recovery for all
This working paper examines the extent to which fiscal consolidation is occuring in 2010-11 among 126 low and middle-income countries, and the potential risks for children and poor households at a time when economic recovery is fragile and uneven. Using fiscal projection data published by the IMF, the paper finds that a significant number of countries is expected to contract aggregate government spending in 2010-11. This is of concern both in terms of GDP (44% of the sample is tightening) as well as in the real value of total government expenditures (25% of the countries). The paper identifies common adjustment measures considered by policy makers, such as wage bill cuts/caps, reducing subsidies and targeting social protection, and highlights their potentially negative social impacts. Financing options for equitable social spending are explored. The paper concludes by questioning if the projected fiscal adjustment trajectory in a number of countries -- in terms of timing, scope and pace -- is conducive to adequately protecting vulnerable households and achieving development goals such as the MDGs. The data sets used are downloadable here.
Maybe not exactly what your friend is looking for, but perhaps a good starting point to backtrack through the sources they used, their charts and appendixes, and conclusions. Maybe browse through the UNICEF site to see what other resources they offer?
posted by codacorolla at 9:41 AM on July 27, 2011

Try the Quality of Government datasets (click Data on the sidebar). I don't know if they will ultimately have what you want for the countries you want, but this is a big omnibus compilation of a bunch of different social science datasets on countries' institutions, etc. with pretty good coverage.
posted by shadow vector at 10:37 AM on July 27, 2011

Nthing the reference librarian advice. (I am one, but a wee bit rusty.)

I think the UNICEF is not a bad lead -- UNESCO has a lot of datasets available for download that may have what you need.

ICPSR is also an outstanding resource for this kind of social science data. Not sure how deep their international coverage goes, but worth a look, definitely.
posted by pantarei70 at 10:45 AM on July 27, 2011

IANYEconomist, but I passed this on to one, and:

"Not easy. Once you get outside the OECD, the data are hard to find - and I mean _really_ hard to find, even for me and the few other people that work on this.

As noted, the UN and the World Bank have some stuff.

Here's some World Bank stuff on education: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.XPD.TOTL.GB.ZS

There are also links to national statistical agencies, but they're sometimes spotty: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/inter-natlinks/sd_natstat.asp

The International Monetary Fund data won't be that helpful, and they make you pay for it: http://www.imf.org/external/data.htm

The World Health Organization has some health care stuff - not much."
posted by kmennie at 10:52 AM on July 27, 2011

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