In spite of recent progress in the usage of alternative financial services by adult populations, Latin America’s financial inclusion gaps have not reduced, relatively to comparable countries, and, in some cases, have even increased during the period 2011-2014. Institutional weaknesses play the most salient role through direct and indirect effects. Lack of enforcement of the rule of law directly reduces depositors’ incentives to entrust their funds to formal financial institutions. Indirectly, low institutional quality reinforces the adverse effects of insufficient bank competition on financial inclusion.
Glimpsing the End of Economic History? Unconditional Convergence and the Missing Middle Income Trap - Working Paper 438
This paper suggests a reinterpretation of global growth—encompassing notions of unconditional convergence and the middle income trap—in the past 50 years through the lens of growth theory. The last 20-30 years have been a golden era of convergence, challenging the new conventional wisdom of secular stagnation.
Governments buy about $9 trillion worth of goods and services a year, and their procurement policies are increasingly subject to international standards and institutional regulation. Using a database of World Bank financed contracts, we explore the impact of a relatively minor procurement rule governing advertising on competition using regression discontinuity design and matching methods. Our findings suggest the potential for more significant and strongly enforced transparency initiatives to have a sizeable effect on procurement outcomes.
Unauthorized Mexican Workers in the United States: Recent Inflows and Possible Future Scenarios - Working Paper 436
The U.S. economy has long relied on immigrant workers, many of them unauthorized, yet estimates of the inflow of unauthorized workers and the determinants of that inflow are hard to come by. This paper provides estimates of the number of newly arriving unauthorized workers from Mexico, the principal source of unauthorized immigrants to the United States, and examines how the inflow is related to U.S. and Mexico economic conditions. Our estimates suggest that annual inflows of unauthorized workers averaged about 170,000 during 1996-2014 but were much higher before the economic downturn that began in 2007. Labor market conditions in the U.S. and Mexico play key roles in this migrant flow. The models estimated here predict that annual unauthorized inflows from Mexico will be about 100,000 in the future if recent economic conditions persist, and higher if the U.S. economy booms or the Mexican economy weakens.
Elections have emerged as a leading area for the application of biometric technology in developing countries, despite its high costs and uncertainty over its effectiveness. This paper finds that a reduction in the probability of post-election violence by only a few percentage points could offset the cost of the technology. However, this is possible only in particular situations.
Searching for the Devil in the Details: Learning about Development Program Design - Working Paper 434
Motivated by our experience in designing a particular social program, skill set signaling for new entrants to the labor market in Peru, we articulate the need for, and explore the empirical consequences of, alternative learning approaches to the design of development projects. We suggest that project, program, and policy design must depend on more robust learning strategies than the attempt to directly apply results from ”systematic reviews” or move prematurely to an RCT.
Gasoline, Guns, and Giveaways: Is There New Capacity for Redistribution to End Three Quarters of Global Poverty? - Working Paper 433
This paper argues that approximately three-quarters of global poverty, at least at the lower poverty lines, could now be eliminated—in principle—via redistribution of nationally available resources. Reducing global poverty at lower poverty lines is increasingly a matter of national inequality.
The Impact of Legislation on the Hazard of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Burkina Faso - Working Paper 432
In 1996, Burkina Faso enacted legislation banning the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). Much of the qualitative literature surrounding FGM/C discounts the impact of legal change on what is considered a social/cultural issue.
Practical Considerations with Using Mobile Phone Survey Incentives: Experiences in Ghana and Tanzania - Working Paper 431
As mobile phone surveys are gaining popularity among researchers and practitioners in international development, one primary challenge is improving survey response and completion rates. A common solution is to provide monetary compensation to respondents. This paper reports on our experience with using incentives with a mobile phone survey conducted in Ghana and Tanzania in June 2015.
Estimating the Avertable Disease Burden and Cost-Effectiveness in Millions Saved Third Edition - Working Paper 429
Millions Saved (2016) is a new edition of detailed case studies on the attributable impact of global health programs at scale. As an input to the book, this paper provides an independent assessment of the cost-effectiveness of a selection of the cases using ex post information from impact evaluations, with the objective of illustrating how economic evaluation can be used in decision making and to provide further evidence on the extent of health gains produced for the funding provided.
Large international differences in the price of labor can be sustained by differences between workers, or by natural and policy barriers to worker mobility. We use migrant selection theory and evidence to place lower bounds on the ad valorem equivalent of labor mobility barriers to the United States. Natural and policy barriers may each create annual global losses of trillions of dollars.
The Impact of Taxes and Social Spending on Inequality and Poverty in Latin America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay (Spanish) - Working Paper 427
There is longstanding debate in population policy about the relationship between modern contraception and abortion. Although theory predicts that they should be substitutes, the existing body of empirical evidence is difficult to interpret. In this paper, we study Nepal’s 2004 legalization of abortion provision and subsequent expansion of abortion services.
This paper uses contract theory to suggest simple contract designs that could be used by the Global Fund. Using a basic model of procurement, we lay out five alternative options and consider when each is likely to be most appropriate. We ultimately provide a synthesis to guide policy makers as to when and how 'results-based' incentive contracts can be used in practice.
Global Health Donors Viewed as Regulators of Monopolistic Service Providers: Lessons from Regulatory Literature - Working Paper 424
Controlling healthcare costs while promoting maximum health impact in the recipient countries is one the biggest challenges for global health donors. This paper views global health donors as the regulators of monopolistic service providers, and explores potential optimal fund payment systems under asymmetric information. It provides a summary and assessment of optimal price regulation designs for monopolistic service providers.
For decades, migration economics has stressed the effects of migration restrictions on income distribution in the host country. Recently the literature has taken a new direction by estimating the costs of migration restrictions to global economic efficiency. In contrast, a new strand of research posits that migration restrictions could be not only desirably redistributive, but in fact globally efficient. This is the new economic case for migration restrictions: empirically, a case against the stringency of current restrictions.
This paper reviews empirical evidence on the micro-level consequences of family planning programs in middle- and low-income countries. In doing so, it focuses on fertility outcomes (the number and timing of births), women’s health and socio-economic outcomes, and children’s health and socio-economic outcomes throughout the life cycle. In practice, family planning programs may only explain a modest share of fertility decline in real-world settings, and may also have quantitatively modest - but practically meaningful - effects on the socio-economic welfare of individuals and families.