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.
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.
After one year, public schools managed by private contractors in Liberia raised student learning by 60 percent, compared to standard public schools.
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.
Internationally comparable test scores play a central role in both research and policy debates on education. However, the main international testing regimes, such as PISA, TIMSS, or PIRLS, include very few low-income countries. For instance, most countries in Southern and Eastern Africa have opted instead for a regional assessment known as SACMEQ. This paper exploits an overlap between the SACMEQ and TIMSS tests—in both country coverage, and questions asked—to assess the feasibility of constructing global learning metrics by equating regional and international scales. I ﬁnd that learning levels in this sample of African countries are consistently (a) low in absolute terms; (b) signiﬁcantly lower than predicted by African per capita GDP levels; and (c) converging slowly, if at all, to the rest of the world during the 2000s. Creating test scores which are truly internationally comparable would be a global public good, requiring more concerted effort at the design stage.
The Political Economy of Bad Data: Evidence from African Survey & Administrative Statistics - Working Paper 373
Across multiple African countries, discrepancies between administrative data and independent household surveys suggest official statistics systematically exaggerate development progress. We provide evidence for two distinct explanations of these discrepancies.
Despite improvements in censuses and household surveys, the building blocks of national statistical systems in sub-Saharan Africa remain weak. Measurement of fundamental statistics such as births and deaths, growth and poverty, taxes and trade, land and the environment, and sickness, schooling, and safety is shaky at best.
We report on a randomized field experiment using price incentives to address both economic and gender inequality in land tenure formalization.
This set includes data and Stata files to replicate the results in CGD Working Paper 279, “The High Return to Private Schooling in a Low-Income Country”
Using data from Kenya—a poor country with weak public institutions—the authors find a large effect of private schooling on test scores, equivalent to one full standard deviation.
Previous studies suggest that abolishing user fees would increase enrollment in public schools, but the results of this research show that the opposite is true in Kenya.
Data Set for Working Paper 271: "Why Did Abolishing Fees Not Increase Public School Enrollment in Kenya?"
This set includes the household survey data, standardized test score data, and the Stata files to replicate the results in CGD Working Paper 271, "Why Did Abolishing Fees Not Increase Public School Enrollment in Kenya?"