How can we accurately measure the global distribution of skills when people in different countries take different tests? We develop a new methodology to non-parametrically link scores from distinct populations. By administering an exam combining items from different assessments to 2,300 primary students in India, we estimate conversion functions among four of the world’s largest standardized tests spanning 80 countries.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises: Evidence from Two-wave Phone Surveys in China
This paper examines both the short-term and mid-term impact of COVID-19 restrictions on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), based on two waves of phone interviews with a previously surveyed large SME sample in China.
Oil and gas discoveries in developing countries are often associated with short-sighted economic policies and, in response, calls to insulate resource management from populist impulses.
The Impact of Taxes and Transfers on Income Inequality, Poverty, and the Urban-Rural and Regional Income Gaps in China
China is characterized by high prefiscal overall, urban-rural and regional inequality. Applying standard fiscal incidence analysis, we estimate the redistributive effect of taxes and social spending on income distribution and poverty.
The types of workers recruited into teaching and their allocation across classrooms can greatly influence a country’s stock of human capital. This paper considers how markets and non-market institutions determine the quantity, wages, skills, and spatial distribution of teachers in developing countries.
In recent years, a growing literature has measured the impact of education interventions in low- and middle-income countries on both access and learning outcomes. But interpretation of those effect sizes as large or small tends to rely on benchmarks developed by a psychologist in the United States in the 1960s. In this paper, we demonstrate the distribution of standardized effect sizes on learning and access from hundreds of studies from low- and middle-income countries.
Public support for global development in rich countries is critical for sustaining effective government and individual action. But the causes of public support are not well understood. Does spending time living in a developing country play a role in generating individual commitment to development? Addressing this question is fraught with selection bias, as individuals are rarely exogenously assigned to spend time in different countries. In this paper I address this question using a natural experiment—the quasi-random assignment of missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to two-year missions in different world regions. I provide the first causal estimates of the effect of travel to a developing country on attitudes to global development.
Social Protection Amidst Social Upheaval: Examining the Impact of a Multi-Faceted Program for Ultra-Poor Households in Yemen
We study the impact of a multi-faceted social protection program, often referred to as a “graduation” model program, in Yemen during a period of civil unrest. After four years we find positive impacts on asset accumulation and savings behavior, albeit substantially less than the amount the household originally received.
Countries across Africa continue to face major challenges in education. In this review, we examine 142 recent empirical studies (from 2014 onward) on how to increase access to and improve the quality of education across the continent, specifically examining how these studies update previous research findings.
How does immigration affect incomes in the countries migrants go to, and how do rising incomes shape emigration from the countries they leave? The answers depend on whether people who migrate have higher or lower productivity than people who do not migrate.
Many governments seek to reduce emigration from low-income countries by encouraging economic development there. A large literature, however, observes that average emigration rates are higher in countries with sustained increases in GDP per capita than in either chronically poor countries or established rich countries.
Governments have long faced pressure to address the climate crisis by increasing taxes on fossil fuels, which are the source of more than three-quarters of the world’s anthropogenic carbon pollution.
Pay levels for public sector workers—and especially teachers—are a constant source of controversy. In many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, protests and strikes suggest that pay is low while simple comparisons to average national income per capita suggest that it is high.
In a post-COVID-19 context, what type of economic growth will most likely end global poverty and reduce inequality? We conclude that in the aftermath of the pandemic, countries will need to pursue historically unprecedented growth paths in order to achieve the poverty and inequality Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
We highlight a lesser known consequence of China’s growth and integration into the world economy in relation to the United States: the rise of services trade. We demonstrate that the US’s trade deficit in goods cycle back as a surplus in exports of education services. Focusing on China’s accession to the World Trade Organization, we show that Chinese cities more exposed to this trade liberalization episode sent more students to US universities.
Early reports suggest the fatality rate from COVID-19 varies greatly across countries, but it's impossible to directly estimate the infection fatality rate in many low- and middle-income countries. To fill this gap, we estimate the adjustments required to extrapolate estimates of the IFR from high- to lower-income regions.
In this article, we draw on our pilot testing of phone-based assessments in Botswana, along with the existing literature on oral testing of reading and mathematics, to propose a series of preliminary practical lessons to guide researchers and service providers as they try phone-based learning assessments. We provide preliminary evidence that phone-based assessments can accurately capture basic numeracy skills.
The IMF’s forecasts of GDP growth in 2020 suggest a substantially muted impact of the COVID crisis for developing countries compared to advanced economies. We hope that the relative optimism will not induce complacency and elicit a less-than-forceful response by countries themselves nor legitimize an ungenerous, conditionality-addled response on the part of the international community in the face of an unprecedented calamity.