Publications

 

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. 

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.

Global Public Goods for Development: How Much and What For

Global Public Goods for Development: How Much and What For

5/18/15

Updated May 19, 2015

Global public goods (GPGs) provide benefits to people in both rich and poor countries. They play a crucial role in safeguarding the social, economic, and political progress of the past century. They are fundamental to managing global risks such as climate change, infectious diseases, and financial crises that can harm developing countries disproportionately; and in exploiting opportunities, such as new vaccines, that can benefit them especially. Yet very little is known about how much governments spend on GPGs that matter for developing countries. 

The Time to Reform US Biofuels Policy Is Now

The Time to Reform US Biofuels Policy Is Now

5/18/15

Even as Congress was mandating large increases in the consumption of biofuels a decade ago, the world was changing. In the early 2000s, replacing fossil fuels with biofuels made from corn, sugar, or oilseeds seemed like a good idea. Increased crop demand would prop up prices for farmers, and replacing petroleum with renewable energy would reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and promote energy independence.

Corporate Commitments to Deforestation-Free Supply Chains: An Expedition

Corporate Commitments to Deforestation-Free Supply Chains: An Expedition

5/12/15

This essay addresses the challenges likely to be faced by corporations and non-governmental organizations as they collaborate to implement recent commitments to deforestation-free commodity supply chains. The essay takes as its inspiration and a source of lessons learned Theodore Roosevelt’s 1913-14 expedition to explore the River of Doubt, a tributary of the Amazon River in Brazil.

Food Security in Developing Countries: Is There a Role for the WTO?

Food Security in Developing Countries: Is There a Role for the WTO?

5/5/15

Trade is a key tool to bring food security to an estimated 800 million people around the world that remain chronically undernourished. Many countries need reliable access to international markets to supplement their inadequate domestic food supplies. Better policies to make agriculture in developing countries more productive and profitable, including via exports, would also help alleviate food insecurity and reduce poverty. Stronger international trade rules would help by constraining the beggar-thy-neighbor policies that distort trade, contribute to price volatility, and discourage investments in developing-country agriculture.

Guarantees, Subsidies, or Paying for Success? Choosing the Right Instruments to Catalyze Private Investment in Developing Countries - Working Paper 402

Guarantees, Subsidies, or Paying for Success? Choosing the Right Instrument to Catalyze Private Investment in Developing Countries - Working Paper 402

5/5/15

Governments, donors, and public sector agencies are seeking productive ways to ‘crowd in’ private sector involvement and capital to tackle international development challenges. The financial instruments that are used to create incentives for private sector involvement are typically those that lower an investment’s risk (such as credit guarantees) or those that lower the costs of various inputs (such as concessional loans, which subsidise borrowing).

The ADB's Bold Move and What It Can Mean for the MDBs

The ADB's Bold Move and What It Can Mean for the MDBs

5/4/15

Last year, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) management proposed a major financial restructuring that would increase the amount of bank capital available for investment. This proposal offers many benefits in and of itself. But it also creates an opening for additional and complementary changes in governance that would greatly strengthen the bank and would ensure all of the benefits of the restructuring are fully captured. The merger proposal represents a highly credible down payment by the ADB on a set of innovations that can greatly expand the institution’s ability to respond to the region’s needs and opportunities—and in the process, stimulate similar dynamics at other MDBs.

The Aid Ring Fence: Protection or Prison?

4/28/15

The development landscape between now and 2030 will be look completely different from the last fifteen years. The Sustainable Development Goals which look likely to be agreed in September, including a commitment to eradicate absolute poverty by 2030, will be addressed against a very different backdrop to the relatively successful period of the Millennium Development Goals. There are three challenges we are going to have to address.

Does the Rise of the Middle Class Lock in Good Government in the Developing World?

4/28/15

The current size of the income-secure middle class and its likely future growth, suggest that optimism is indeed warranted for many of today’s middle-income countries. But it is not warranted for all of them, and especially not for most of the low-income countries of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa — even if they continue to grow at the relatively healthy rates they have enjoyed in the last decade and more.

The Cost and Cost-Effectiveness of Alternative Strategies to Expand Treatment to HIV-Positive South Africans: Scale Economies and Outreach Costs

The Cost and Cost-Effectiveness of Alternative Strategies to Expand Treatment to HIV-Positive South Africans: Scale Economies and Outreach Costs - Working Paper 401

4/23/15
Gesine Meyer-Rath, Mead Over, Daniel J. Klein, and Anna Bershteyn

The South African government is currently discussing various alternative approaches to the further expansion of antiretroviral treatment (ART) in public-sector facilities. Alternatives under consideration include the criteria under which a patient would be eligible for free care, the level of coverage with testing and care, how much of the care will be delivered in small facilities located closer to the patients, and how to assure linkage to care and subsequent adherence by ART patients.

The Meaning of Failed Replications: A Review and Proposal - Working Paper 399

The Meaning of Failed Replications: A Review and Proposal - Working Paper 399

4/9/15

The welcome rise of replication tests in economics has not been accompanied by a single, clear definition of ‘replication’. A discrepant replication, in current usage of the term, can signal anything from an unremarkable disagreement over methods to scientific incompetence or misconduct. This paper proposes an unambiguous definition of replication, one that reflects currently common but unstandardized use. It contrasts this definition with decades of unsuccessful attempts to standardize terminology, and argues that many prominent results described as replication tests should not be described as such. Adopting this definition can improve incentives for researchers, encouraging more and better replication tests.

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