Most countries in sub-Saharan Africa have not implemented testing of children’s learning that can be benchmarked regionally or globally, in contrast to almost all countries in Latin America. Our analysis of the political economy of cross-national learning measurement in Latin America suggests that policymakers perceive the risks of exposing their education system’s performance by joining cross-national assessments, but they also value the quality of the data generated, the strengthening of domestic technical capacity, and the political benefits in using comparative results to argue for reforms or to advertise progress.
The Effects of an ID Requirement for Health Insurance on Infants’ Health Care Utilization and Health Outcomes: Evidence from Peru’s Seguro Integral de Salud
Many governments require individuals to prove their identity to qualify for public programs, which risks excluding beneficiaries who lack identification documents.
Previous efforts to synthesize evidence on how to improve educational outcomes for girls have tended to focus on interventions that are principally targeted to girls, such as girls’ latrines or girls’ scholarships. But if general, non-targeted interventions—those that benefit both girls and boys—significantly improve girls’ education, then focusing only on girl-targeted interventions may miss some of the best investments for improving educational opportunities for girls in absolute terms.
The state of Andhra Pradesh is recognized as a leader in using technology to improve the delivery of public services, programs and subsidies. This paper reports on research to better understand the functioning and effectiveness of its reforms to strengthen state capacity by digitalizing service delivery.
This paper examines the impact of Ukraine’s ambitious procurement reform on outcomes amongst a set of procurements that used competitive tendering. This paper examines the impact of ProZorro and reform on contracts that were procured competitively both prior to and after the introduction of the new system. It finds some evidence of impact of the new system on increasing the number of bidders, cost savings, and reduced contracting times.
The Limits of Accounting-Based Accountability in Education (and Far Beyond): Why More Accounting Will Rarely Solve Accountability Problems
Accountability is rightly at the center of the conversation regarding how to improve governance systems, particularly health and education systems. But efforts to address accountability deficits often focus primarily on improving what can be counted and verified—what we term “accounting-based accountability.”
With the goal of driving down drug costs, governments across the globe have instituted various forms of pharmaceutical price control policies. In this paper, we examine the theoretical and empirical effects of one implementation of pharmaceutical price controls, in which the Indian government placed price ceilings on a set of essential medicines.
We use data from seven low and middle income countries with diverse drug procurement systems to assess the effect of centralized procurement on drug prices and provide a theoretical mechanism that explains this effect. We find that centralized procurement of drugs by the public sector allows much lower prices but that the induced price reduction is smaller when the supply side is more concentrated.
This paper focuses on the role that price transparency may play in the efficient and effective procurement of medicines by middle- and low-income countries. Will making prices publicly available make procurement more efficient and cost-effective medicines more accessible? We conclude that transparency of the procurement process significantly lowers costs by encouraging bidders.
Midline Effects of a Randomized Controlled Trial to Increase the Utilization of Financial Services by Women Business Owners in Rural Indonesia - Working Paper 506
This is the report of a midline evaluation of a randomized controlled trial to increase the utilization of saving and other financial services by women business owners in Indonesia.
The Limits (And Human Costs) of Population Policy: Fertility Decline and Sex Selection in China under Mao - Working Paper 505
Most of China’s fertility decline predates the famous One Child Policy—and instead occurred under its predecessor, the Later, Longer, Fewer (LLF) policy. Studying LLF’s contribution to fertility and sex selection behavior, we find that it i) reduced China’s total fertility rate by 0.9 births per woman (explaining 28% of China’s modern fertility decline), ii) doubled the use of male-biased fertility stopping rules, and iii) promoted postnatal neglect (implying 210,000 previously unrecognized missing girls). Considering Chinese population policy to be extreme in global experience, our paper demonstrates the limits of population policy—and its potential human costs.
Learning Equity Requires More than Equality: Learning Goals and Achievement Gaps between the Rich and the Poor in Five Developing Countries - Working Paper 504
Achieving some absolute standard of learning for all children is a key element of global equity in education. Using the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) data from India and Pakistan, and Uwezo data from Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda that test all children of given ages, whether in school or not, on simple measures of learning in math, reading (local language), and English, we quantify the role of achieving equality between the richest 20% and the poorest 40% in terms of grade attainment and learning achievement toward accomplishing the global equity goal of universal numeracy and literacy for all children.
Enhancing Young Children’s Language Acquisition through Parent-Child Book-Sharing: A Randomized Trial in Rural Kenya - Working Paper 502
Worldwide, 250 million children under five (43 percent) are not meeting their developmental potential because they lack adequate nutrition and cognitive stimulation in early childhood. Several parent support programs have shown significant benefits for children’s development, but the programs are often expensive and resource intensive. The objective of this study was to test several variants of a potentially scalable, cost-effective intervention to increase cognitive stimulation by parents and improve emergent literacy skills in children.
Can institutionalized transfers of resource rents be a source of civil conflict? Are cohesive institutions better at managing conflicts over distribution? We exploit exogenous variation in revenue disbursements to local governments and use new data on local democratic institutions in Nigeria to answer these questions.
Measuring the Spatial Misallocation of Labor: The Returns to India-Gulf Guest Work in a Natural Experiment - Working Paper 501
‘Guest workers’ earn higher wages overseas on temporary low-skill employment visas. This wage gap can be used to measure gaps in the productivity of workers due to where they are, not who they are. This paper estimates the effects of guest work on Indian applicants to a construction job in the United Arab Emirates, where an economic crisis allocated guest work opportunities as-good-as-randomly among several thousand families. Guest work raised the return to poor families' labor by a factor of four, with little evidence of systematic fraud.
Gender languages assign many—sometimes all—nouns to distinct sex-based categories, masculine and feminine. We construct a new data set, documenting this property for more than four thousand languages which together account for more than 99 percent of the world’s population.
Who are the world’s poor? This paper presents a new global profile of multidimensional poverty using three specifications of multidimensional poverty.
The Dilemma of the African Development Bank: Does Governance Matter for the Long-Run Financing of the MDBs? - Working Paper 498
Does governance matter for the long-run financing and effectiveness the multilateral development banks? Does their system of weighted voting matter for their long-run access to financing and their effectiveness as development institutions? Does the voting structure involve some tradeoff between the confidence of creditor countries in the different MDBs, and the sense of ownership, legitimacy, and trust of borrowers?