Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Publications

 

Cover of working paper 543
August 19, 2020

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.

Cover of Policy Paper 149
July 11, 2019

Fuel Subsidy Reform and Green Taxes: Can Digital Technologies Improve State Capacity and Effectiveness?

Reforming inefficient and inequitable energy subsidies continues to be an important priority for policymakers as does instituting “green taxes” to reduce carbon emissions. The paper outlines how the use of digital technology can help accomplishing those reforms, drawing on four country cases. The technology is only a mechanism; it does not, in itself, create the political drive and constituency to push reform forward.

Cover of Working Paper 501
January 31, 2019

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.

An aerial view of the Za'atri camp in Jordan for Syrian refugees on July 18, 2013. State Department photo/Public Domain.
June 28, 2018

Refugee Spending and the Macroeconomic Program in Jordan

Even with international assistance, the cost of providing refuge to so many people has strained the budget of the Jordanian government. At the same time, international partners, notably the IMF, have been insisting that Jordan take actions to bring down government debt to “more sustainable levels” through increasing fiscal discipline to tame government deficits. These dual imperatives by the international community—host more refugees and tame the budget—seem to put Jordan in an untenable situation as long as the refugee crisis continues. Something will have to give—the question is how, what, and when?

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.

Photo of a Syrian woman who was displaced
October 11, 2017

Global Skill Partnerships: A Proposal for Technical Training in Settings of Forced Displacement

The world urgently needs innovation to shape how international migration happens. Today people who are forcibly displaced are seen and treated largely as a burden, not as a resource that can bring shared benefits. A new type of private-public partnership can offer new opportunity for some of those who are forcibly displaced. It can be called a Global Skill Partnership, and this note illustrates how it might work for Syrians displaced into Turkey.

cover of working paper 463
October 6, 2017

Testing for Repugnance in Economic Transactions: Evidence from Guest Work in the Gulf - Working Paper 463

Workers from poor countries can find enormous economic opportunity by working temporarily in a rich country. But agencies that fight global poverty do little to facilitate guest work. This may be because guest workers are perceived to typically suffer negative side effects that outweigh the benefits. This paper uses a natural experiment to test several perceptions of harmful side-effects on Indian guest workers in the Gulf. The research shows little evidence that the harmful side-effects often ascribed to guest work are typical and systematic, though this does not contradict the occurrence of many individual cases of harmful side-effects.

December 7, 2015

Modernizing US Security and Development Assistance in the Middle East

US strategy in the Middle East and North Africa has not changed in the past 40 years, favoring security approaches over political and economic development, narrow partnerships with select regime elements over broader engagement with governments and people, and short-term responses and interventions over long-term vision. Symptomatic of this strategy is the fact that US security assistance vastly outstrips economic assistance.