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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.
After one year, public schools managed by private contractors in Liberia raised student learning by 60 percent, compared to standard public schools. But costs were high, performance varied across contractors, and contracts authorized the largest contractor to push excess pupils and underperforming teachers onto other government schools.
In their new paper, Markus Goldstein and co-authors examine the effects of land title registration in Rwanda using a national-level randomized control trial. They concluded that the program resulted in a significant shift of labor from agriculture to non-farm enterprises and wage work, with an improvement in welfare.
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.
Two recent books reveal an internal debate about the value of childcare and women's work at the Inter-American Development Bank. Impact evaluations show home visitation programs are cheaper and better for kids than center-based childcare. But a new volume argues the cost-benefit calculation may change once impacts on women, and not just children, are added to the equation.
Teachers in poor countries earn far more, in relative terms, than teachers in the OECD—and several recent studies suggest their pay isn’t linked to skills or performance. But we also have growing evidence that high-quality teachers generate huge economic returns. The question is how to ensure high pay attracts high quality.
As economic indicators deteriorate, the Tanzanian government has jailed an opposition leader for questioning the Bank of Tanzania's growth statistics. It's time for the World Bank and the IMF to speak up. If it's illegal to question a government's statistics, why should anyone trust them?
While Modi has celebrated India’s rapid rise in the Doing Business rankings, the World Bank’s Chief Economist recently resigned amid controversy over methodological changes. Without those changes, India’s “jump” in the rankings looks much more modest.