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Legal empowerment of the poor, education, Africa, evaluating aid effectiveness
Justin Sandefur is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. Prior to joining CGD, he spent two years as an adviser to Tanzania's national statistics office and worked as a research officer at Oxford University's Centre for the Study of African Economies. His research focuses on a wide range of topics, including education, poverty reduction, legal reform, and democratic governance.
Over the last decade, Latin America has seen solid economic growth combined with decreasing (but still very high) income inequality – lifting millions of people out of poverty and fueling the rise of a not-poor-but-not-rich “middle” class.
The WHO has recently debated whether to reaffirm its long-standing recommendation to deliver deworming drugs en masse to children in places with high worm prevalence. While deworming drugs are safe and cheap, a recent Cochrane review concluded there is “substantial evidence” that mass deworming has no impact on weight or other child outcomes, leading some to question the WHO policy.
Public employees in many developing economies earn much higher wages than similar private-sector workers. These wage premia may reflect an efficient return to effort or unobserved skills, or an inefficient rent causing labor misallocation. To distinguish these explanations, we exploit the Kenyan government’s algorithm for hiring eighteen-thousand new teachers in 2010 in a regression discontinuity design. Fuzzy regression discontinuity estimates yield a civil-service wage premium of over 100 percent (not attributable to observed or unobserved skills), but no effect on motivation, suggesting rent-sharing as the most plausible explanation for the wage premium.