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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes income convergence and medium-term growth potential for Estonia. Estonia’s potential growth is projected to average some 3 percent over the next five years and 2.75 percent over the next two decades, implying continued income convergence with European Union levels, albeit at only half its historical pace. A number of policy enhancements could lift growth above this central projection. These include a greater operational policy focus on raising productivity growth, scaling up a number of envisaged pro-growth programs, supporting the upgrading of traditional industries as a second leg of innovation policy, and fully restoring Estonia’s high investment.
Ms. Evridiki Tsounta
Despite the increasing interest in universal health care, little is known about the optimal way to finance, design, and implement it. This paper attempts to fill this gap by providing some general policy recommendations on this important issue. While most of the paper addresses the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) countries, its policy implications are applicable to any country. The paper finds that the best financing option is country-specific depending on a country’s economic, cultural, institutional, demographic and epidemiological characteristics, as well as political economy considerations. However, taxation should be the primary financing source. It also concludes that an appropriate and realistic benefit package would need to be designed to ensure the system’s financial viability. Regarding the optimal way to implement universal health care, certain preconditions are needed, including sound public administration, a small informal economy, and a transparent health financing system that builds social consensus.
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper analyzes quality upgrading and low-wage competition for Singapore. The analysis concludes that quality upgrading is indeed taking place in some products where low-wage competitors are entering. More generally, Singapore’s exports are of a higher quality than its regional competitors, and the quality gap has widened over time. This paper also assesses the factors behind the mixed results of Singapore banks’ outward expansion by examining the region’s industry structure and competitive conditions.
Mr. Steven A. Symansky and Mr. Peter S. Heller
Significant aging is projected for many high-saving emerging economies of East and Southeast Asia. By 2025, the share of the elderly in their populations will at least double in most of these countries. The share of the young will fall. Aging populations could adversely affect saving rates in these economies, particularly after 2025. For the world, one may observe that, initially, the Asian Tigers could become increasingly important for world savings, reflecting their increased weight in the world economy, their high saving and growth rates, and the aging of the industrial countries. After 2025, the aging of the Tigers may reinforce the tendency toward a declining world saving rate.
Mr. Peter S. Heller
The paper assesses the government expenditure effects from changing demographics in the Asian “Tiger” economies through 2050. With some exceptions, their limited social insurance commitments initially suggest that aging populations may not adversely affect fiscal balances. Yet for all the Tigers, changing illness patterns and medical modernization may combine with demographics to intensify budgetary pressures. The paper notes the implications of the Tigers’ reliance on private sector pension and medical insurance systems; the need for an active public role; and the complications for fiscal analysis when private sector instruments are used, in a mandatory way, as public policy instruments.
Mr. Guy M Meredith and Mr. Ulrich Baumgartner


This volume brings together various analytical studies the IMF staff has undertaken on the Japanese economy, focusing on two areas of particular interest for both longer-term economic performance and recent cyclical developments. The first is Japan's saving behavior, the second is the remarkable swing in asset prices that occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s.