Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity



Cover of Policy Paper 111
November 17, 2017

When Do Subsidy Reforms Stick? Lessons from Iran, Nigeria, and India

This paper covers qualitative case studies from Iran, Nigeria, and India to illustrate a series of lessons for governments implementing subsidy reform policies. From these three country experiences, we find that fostering public support to implement lasting reform may depend on four measures: (1) forming a public engagement plan and a comprehensive reform policy that are then clearly communicated to the public in advance of price increases; (2) phasing in price adjustments over a period of time to ease absorption; (3) providing a targeted compensatory cash transfer to alleviate financial impacts on low- to middle-income households; and (4) capitalizing on favorable global macroeconomic conditions.

Todd Moss testifies at the SFRC on energy in Africa on November 1, 2017. Photo by Kaveh Sardari.
November 1, 2017

Energy in Africa Promotes US Economic and Security Interests

Todd Moss testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy at a hearing titled “Energy and International Development” on November 1, 2017. During his appearance before the Committee, Todd detailed how US efforts to expand meaningful—modern—energy access in sub-Saharan Africa serve US interests and offered recommendations for strengthening Power Africa.

Cover of Working Paper 466
October 15, 2017

Can Africa Be a Manufacturing Destination? Labor Costs in Comparative Perspective - Working Paper 466

Our central question is whether African countries can break into global manufacturing in a substantial way. Our results suggest that for any given level of GDP, labor is more costly for firms that are located in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, we also find that there are a few countries in Africa that, on a labor cost basis, may be potential candidates for manufacturing—Ethiopia in particular stands out.

Cover of Policy Paper 108: The Electricity Situation in Ghana: Challenges and Opportunities
September 8, 2017

The Electricity Situation in Ghana: Challenges and Opportunities

In the past decade, Ghana has experienced severe electricity supply challenges even though installed generation capacity has more than doubled over the period. The electricity supply challenges can be attributed to a number of factors, including a high level of losses in the distribution system as well as non-payment of revenue by consumers. Solving Ghana’s electricity challenges would require a range of measures.

Ebenezer Nyarko Kumi
September 7, 2017

Can a Public-Private Partnership Improve Liberia’s Schools?

After one year, public schools managed by private operators raised student learning by 60 percent compared to standard public schools. But costs were high, performance varied across operators, and contracts authorized the largest operator to push excess pupils and under-performing teachers into other government schools.

Mauricio Romero , Justin Sandefur and Wayne Aaron Sandholtz
June 21, 2017

Measuring Rents from Public Employment: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Kenya - Working Paper 457

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.

Nicholas Barton , Tessa Bold and Justin Sandefur
March 9, 2017

Meeting Sub-Saharan Africa’s Frontier Market Financing Needs: More Is Better from the IMF

An energizing development for IMF staff working on sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) over the past decade was the region's clear growth uptick and progress in reducing poverty relative to earlier periods. A number of African countries graduated to lower middle-income country (MIC) status and became "frontier economies." This was the essence of the “Africa Rising” story. But since my time at the Fund, I have pondered whether the IMF has fully adjusted to the evolving financing needs of these countries. I think it’s fair to conclude that this adjustment is a work in progress and that SSA frontier countries can themselves do more to accelerate it.