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Cover of working paper 536
July 10, 2020

Trade Liberalization and Chinese Students in US Higher Education

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.

Cover of working paper 535
June 12, 2020

Predicted COVID-19 Fatality Rates Based on Age, Sex, Comorbidities, and Health System Capacity

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.

Cover of working paper 534 (revised)
May 28, 2020

Practical Lessons for Phone-Based Assessments of Learning

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.

Cover of Working Paper 533
May 14, 2020

The IMF’s Growth Forecasts for Poor Countries Don’t Match Its COVID Narrative

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.

April 14, 2020

Headship and Poverty in Africa

With a little more care to take context and the confounding attributes that make female-headed households (FHHs) particularly prone to poverty into account, this paper argues that headship can be useful for identifying poor households in Africa.

The cover of the working paper
April 10, 2020

Can Boosting Savings and Skills Support Female Business Owners in Indonesia? Evidence from A Randomized Controlled Trial

This study tests the relative effectiveness and cost effectiveness of providing supply-side incentives to promote agent banking savings accounts, business and financial literacy training for female entrepreneurs, and the combination of the two on women’s businesses and agency in Indonesia.

Cover of the revised working paper 527
March 30, 2020

SDG1: The Last Three Percent

There is a little-noticed but important difference between the World Bank’s original goal for poverty reduction and the subsequent UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). While both target the “$1.90 a day” poverty rate, the Bank’s goal was a 3% rate by 2030, while the SDG is to “eradicate” poverty by 2030.

Cover of Working Paper 526
March 25, 2020

Building Resilient Health Systems: Experimental Evidence from Sierra Leone and the 2014 Ebola Outbreak

Developing countries are characterized by high rates of mortality and morbidity. A potential contributing factor is the low utilization of health systems, stemming from the low perceived quality of care delivered by health personnel. This factor may be especially critical during crises, when individuals choose whether to cooperate with response efforts and frontline health personnel. We experimentally examine efforts aimed at improving health worker performance in the context of the 2014–15 West African Ebola crisis.

Cover of Working Paper 522
December 17, 2019

Identifying and Verifying Customers: When are KYC Requirements Likely to Become Constraints on Financial Inclusion?

Onerous KYC documentation requirements are widely recognized as a potential constraint to full financial inclusion. However, it is sometimes difficult to judge the extent to which this constraint is a serious or binding one, relative to others. The paper considers this question, distinguishing between different types of documentation and different financial market segments according to their KYC requirements.

Cover of Working Paper 521
December 15, 2019

Beyond Short-term Learning Gains: The Impact of Outsourcing Schools in Liberia after Three Years

After one year, outsourcing the management of ninety-three randomly-selected government primary schools in Liberia to eight private operators led to modest learning gains. In this paper, we revisit the program two years later. Despite facing similar contracts and settings, some providers produced uniformly positive results, while others present stark trade-offs between learning gains, access to education, child safety, and financial sustainability.

The cover of the paper
October 31, 2019

Formal Employment and Organized Crime: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Colombia

Canonical models of crime emphasize economic incentive. Yet, causal evidence of sorting into criminal occupations in response to individual-level variation in incentives is limited. We link administrative socioeconomic microdata with the universe of arrests in Medellín over a decade. We exploit exogenous variation in formal-sector employment around a socioeconomic-score cutoff, below which individuals receive benefits if not formally employed, to test whether a higher cost to formal-sector employment induces crime. Regression discontinuity estimates show this policy generated reductions in formal-sector employment and a corresponding spike in organized crime, but no effects on crimes of impulse or opportunity.