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WP421

The New Role of the World Bank - Working Paper 421

1/25/16

Many developing countries need the World Bank’s capital less and less. What role should the Bank play in the 21st century? This paper argues that many features of the Bank today reflect a new role. That role, resting on the economic theory of bargaining and public good provision, is to reduce extreme poverty. Donor subsidies to the Bank already reflect this role, which implies new ways to structure and evaluate the Bank’s work.

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Changes in Funding Patterns by Latin American Banking Systems: How Large? How Risky? - Working Paper 420

11/20/15

This paper investigates the shifts in Latin American banks’ funding patterns in the post-global financial crisis period. To this end, we introduce a new measure of exposure of local banking systems to international debt markets that we term: International Debt Issuances by Locally Supervised Institutions. In contrast to well-known BIS measures, our new metric includes all entities that fall under the supervisory purview of the local authority.

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Asking What the People Want: Using Mobile Phone Surveys to Identify Citizen Priorities - Working Paper 418

10/19/15

Using an experimental design, we assess the feasibility of interactive voice recognition (IVR) surveys for gauging citizens’ development priorities. Our project focuses on four low-income countries (Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe). We find that mobile phone-based approaches may be an effective tool for gathering information about citizen priorities.

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Toward Better Global Poverty Measures - Working Paper 417

9/16/15

The paper discusses three problems in measuring global poverty: (i) how to allow for social effects on welfare, recognizing the identification issues involved; (ii) the need to monitor progress in raising the consumption floor above its biological level; and (iii) addressing the longstanding concerns about prevailing approaches to making inter-country comparisons of price levels facing poor people.

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Taxes: Price of Civilization or Tribute to Leviathan? - Working Paper 412

8/31/15
Lant Pritchett and Yamini Aiyar

There are two dominant narratives about taxation.  In one, taxes are the “price we pay for a civilized society” (Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.).  In this view taxes are not a necessary evil (as in the pairing of “death and taxes” as inevitable) but a positive good: more taxes buy more “civilization.” The other view is that taxes are “tribute to Leviathan”—a pure involuntary extraction from those engaged in economic production to those who control coercive power producing no reciprocal benefit.  In this view taxes are a bane of the civilized.   We consider the question of taxes as price versus tribute for contemporary India.

wp410

Inequality and Fiscal Redistribution in Middle Income Countries: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru and South Africa - Working Paper 410

8/21/15

This paper examines the redistributive impact of fiscal policy for Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru and South Africa using comparable fiscal incidence analysis with data from around 2010. The largest redistributive effect is in South Africa and the smallest in Indonesia. While fiscal policy always reduces inequality, this is not the case with poverty.

Manufacturing or Services? An Indian Illustration of a Development Dilemma - Working Paper 409

6/10/15
Amrit Amirapu and Arvind Subramanian

Manufacturing has historically offered the fastest path out of poverty, but there is mounting evidence that this path may be all but closed to developing countries today. Some have suggested that services might provide a new path forward, while others have expressed skepticism about this claim and consequent pessimism over the future growth trajectories of developing countries. We contribute to debate this by using a multi-sector growth framework to establish five important criteria that any sector must exhibit in order to lead an economy to rapid, sustained, and inclusive development. 

The Health Consequences of Aerial Spraying of Illicit Crops: The Case of Colombia

The Health Consequences of Aerial Spraying of Illicit Crops: The Case of Colombia - Working Paper 408

6/1/15
Adriana Camacho and Daniel Mejia

A joint US-Colombia antinarcotics program sprayed hundreds of thousands of acres of illicit crops in Colombia with the herbicide glyphosate over several years. The recent classification of glyphosate as a likely carcinogen raises questions about the health effects of that spraying campaign. In this study, two economists from Colombia’s Los Andes University, combine data on aerial spraying from 2003 to 2007 with comprehensive individual-level data on every visit to public health facilities during that period. They find that aerial spraying raised the incidence of miscarriages, skin conditions, and respiratory problems.

Can a Poverty-Reducing and Progressive Tax and Transfer System Hurt the Poor? - Working Paper 405

Can a Poverty-Reducing and Progressive Tax and Transfer System Hurt the Poor? - Working Paper 405

5/21/15
Sean Higgins and Nora Lustig

Whether the poor are helped or hurt by taxes and transfers is generally determined by comparing income distributions before and after fiscal policy using stochastic dominance tests and measures of progressivity and horizontal inequity. We formally show that these tools can fail to capture an important aspect: that a substantial proportion of the poor are made poorer (or non-poor made poor) by the tax and transfer system.

Call Me Educated: Evidence from a Mobile Monitoring Experiment in Niger - Working Paper 406

Call Me Educated: Evidence from a Mobile Monitoring Experiment in Niger - Working Paper 406

5/21/15
Jenny C. Aker and Christopher Ksoll

In rural areas of developing countries, education programs are often implemented through community teachers. While teachers are a crucial part of the education production function, observing their effort remains a challenge for the public sector. This paper tests whether a simple monitoring system, implemented via the mobile phone, can improve student learning as part of an adult education program. 

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