Caterina Alacevich, Alessandro Tarozzi, 23 April 2017

Data typically show that people become progressively taller as living standards improve. But despite impressive recent rates of economic growth, India remains one of the worst-performing countries in terms of height. Using data from Indian and English health surveys, this column reveals that, conditional on parents’ height, children of Indian ethnicity are on average taller when born and raised in England rather than in India. The results provide evidence against the importance of genetic factors in explaining the disappointing growth performance of Indian children.

Roberto Ezcurra, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 13 April 2017

Spatial inequality is understood as a function of geography or administrative planning, but its relation to ethnic segregation is less well understood. This column analyses this relationship using regional data for 71 countries with different levels of economic development. The degree of spatial concentration of ethnic groups is a robust and highly significant predictor of within-country income disparities. More ethnically segregated countries experience higher levels of spatial inequality and are thus more prone to conflict.

Riccardo Crescenzi, Marco Di Cataldo, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 11 April 2017

Transport infrastructure investment is a cornerstone of growth-promoting strategies around the world. However, investment in new infrastructure is not always conducive to stronger economic performance. This column argues that the lack of positive economic returns may be due to institutional failures mitigating the growth effects of public capital expenditures. In contexts marked by weak and inefficient governments and widespread corruption, different types of road investments yield low or no economic returns.

Emmanuelle Auriol, Jean-Philippe Platteau, 09 April 2017

The extent to which Islam is responsible for the problems encountered in countries in which it dominates has been the subject of much attention. This column explores the effect of religions with differing organisational structures on progressive institutional reforms, state corruption, and political stability. Decentralised religions such as Islam are more conducive to institutional stagnation and political instability than centralised religions such as Catholicism or Eastern Christianity, with negative consequences for long-term development.

Andrew Powell, José Juan Ruiz Gómez, 05 April 2017

Latin America and the Caribbean needs higher growth without increasing debt. This column, based on the new 2017 IDB macroeconomic report, argues that completing intra-regional trade integration is a low-hanging fruit. Trade deals abound, the region has advanced, but regional trade is low – current agreements are too complex and inconsistent. A bottom-up, concrete, politically viable action plan is outlined. Deeper integration would boost growth in any scenario, but the pay-off is even larger if the world becomes more protectionist.

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