Across the world, 650 million people still lack access to clean water, despite great progress over last two decades. This column looks at the case of Bangladesh, where around 45 million people are at risk from drinking water that is contaminated with naturally occurring arsenic. Drinking this water can lead to symptoms of arsenicosis, which have a significant negative impact on mental health and thus on household productivity and wellbeing.
Shyamal Chowdhury, Annabelle Krause, Klaus F. Zimmermann, 28 April 2016
Jeremiah Dittmar, Ralf R Meisenzahl, 26 April 2016
Throughout history, most states have functioned as kleptocracies and not as providers of public goods. This column analyses the diffusion of legal institutions that established Europe’s first large-scale experiments in mass public education. These institutions originated in Germany during the Protestant Reformation due to popular political mobilisation, but only in around half of Protestant cities. Cities that formalised these institutions grew faster over the next 200 years, both by attracting and by producing more highly skilled residents.
The Poverty Reduction, Equity and Growth Network (PEGNet) Conference 2016 on Regional integration for Africa’s economic transformation – Challenges and opportunities will be held in Kigali, Rwanda in cooperation with the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research, IPAR-Rwanda on September 15-16, 2016.
The Conference will provide a platform for high-level dialogue between development researchers, practitioners and policy-makers working on Poverty Reduction, Inequality, Growth and other related topics in Development Economics. The two conference days will feature parallel-sessions based on invited and contributed papers and project presentations. These will be complemented by a debate, a round-table discussion, and keynote speeches by renowned speakers from academia, economic policy and development practice.
Robert Barro, 04 February 2016
China’s diminished growth prospects are in the news and seem to spell bad news for just about everybody. This column assesses the evidence, arguing that China’s economic growth will be much slower from now on, reducing international trade. Perhaps the biggest challenge for China will be future political tensions in reconciling economic dreams with economic realities.
Longfeng Ye, Peter E. Robertson, 01 February 2016
The World Bank has identified 37 countries as being in a ‘middle-income trap’, but few formal tests of the middle-income trap hypothesis exist. This column presents a new test based on a more nuanced observation that incorporates information on a country’s long-run growth path. Only seven out of 46 middle-income countries are found to be potentially ‘trapped’. Some countries that are usually considered to be trapped may just be growing very slowly.
Adriana Kocornik-Mina, Thomas McDermott, Guy Michaels, Ferdinand Rauch, 21 January 2016
During the past couple of months alone, floods have displaced 100,000 people or more in Kenya, in Paraguay and Uruguay, and in India, as well as more than 50,000 people in the UK. And rising sea levels due to climate change loom. This column assesses the risk and the challenges for policymakers. It details the effects of flooding in cities around the world, showing that economic activity is concentrated in low-elevation urban areas, despite their much greater exposure to flooding. And worryingly, economic activity tends to return to flood-prone low-lying areas rather than relocating.
Joshua Aizenman, Yothin Jinjarak, Jungsuk Kim, Donghyun Park, 08 January 2016
Taxation in developing nations has always been difficult, but the Global Crisis has brought further complications. This column examines and compares the tax revenue trends in Asia and Latin America to shed light on some of these issues. Despite their similarities, there is no one-size-fits-all explanation for tax/GDP ratios between the two regions. While progress has been made, the gap between the advanced economies and developing countries offers ample room for improvement. This is particularly important for developing nations as they face growing demand for fiscal spending.
Sheilagh Ogilvie, 23 December 2015
A vocal set of economists argue that economies can succeed in the absence of strong state and public institutions. This column looks to the ‘Champagne fairs’ of medieval Europe for lessons in how important public institutions can be. Public authorities are crucial – for good or for ill. When rulers provided these as generalised institutional services to everyone, the Champagne fairs flourished. When they granted them to privileged groups only, trade declined and business moved elsewhere.
(Emeritus Professor, University of Namur and Centre for Research in Economic Development (CRED))
Philip Keefer (Principal Economic Advisor, Inter-American Development Bank)
The annual conference brings together international scholars and researchers of development economics and neighboring fields. Plenary sessions with keynote speakers, and parallel sessions with contributed papers and posters will reflect the current state of research in development economics and provide a forum for exchange for researchers and practitioners.
Prof. Dr. Axel Dreher (Alfred-Weber-Institute for Economics, Heidelberg University)
Prof. Dr. Stefan Klonner (South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University)
The report takes an in-depth look at the types of finance the transition region requires to move towards sustainable growth. In the post-crisis era, growth in the region has come to a virtual standstill. As a result, there is little convergence with advanced countries and the report concludes that the region requires a variety of funding sources, as well as structural reform, to address the investment gap that currently exists.
The report assesses the balance between debt and equity financing, between foreign currency and local currency finance and between external and domestic funding. In particular, the report assesses in detail the role of private equity as a form of growth capital in the EBRD’s countries of operations. It also looks at whether the balance is right between public, household and corporate debt. Finally, the report considers how the balance between traditional western European foreign direct investment and funding from further-flung regions might be improved.
Siwan Anderson, Debraj Ray, 10 October 2015
The developing world has notoriously low female-to-male sex ratios, a phenomenon that has been described as ‘missing women’. It is argued that this is driven by parental preferences for sons, sex-selective abortion, and different levels of care during infancy. This column shows that these higher rates of female mortality continue into adulthood. It argues that being unmarried, especially through widowhood, can have substantial effects on relative rates of female mortality in the developing world.
James A Robinson, Ragnar Torvik, Thierry Verdier, 27 July 2015
Economists have long understood that policy chosen by politics is unlikely to be socially optimal. This is because politicians face the probability of losing power and may discount the future too much, or act to improve their re-election probability. This column explores these issues taking into account the fact that future government revenue is uncertain. Public income volatility acts to reduce the efficiency of public policy. This has important implications for developing countries that rely on income from volatile sources, such as natural resource extraction.
Alexandra Lopez-Cermeño, 12 July 2015
Economic historians tend to explain US geographical development gaps in terms of industrialisation. But by the end of the 20th century, the richest counties had become specialised in services, rather than in manufacturing. This column evaluates how the service economy triggered this evident contrast between the urban and rural US. Market size causes localisation of non-agricultural activity, with the effect being stronger for services, especially knowledge services. Local policymakers can thus foster growth by attracting high-skilled workers to a region, with the multiplier effect eventually increasing the local market.
Allison Demeritt, Karla Hoff, James Walsh, 20 May 2015
Economists typically assume people behave in a rational and self-interested way, making standard models limited in their explanatory power. This column argues that psychological and sociological factors – though usually ignored in economic models – affect decision-making. The findings, drawn from the World Development Report, further suggest that better behavioural understanding could subsequently aid development efforts.
Vincent Somville, Lore Vandewalle, 11 May 2015
Making transfers to bank accounts instead of paying cash could potentially enhance savings. This column tests this hypothesis using a randomised trial from India. The evidence suggests that being paid on the account increases the balance by around 110% within three months of weekly payments. The individuals who were paid in cash do not save more in other assets, such as cash at home, but increase consumption.
Uri Dadush, 13 March 2015
Manufacturing is often seen as the key to sustainable export and productivity growth in developing countries. This column argues that, while manufacturing played a key role in some countries’ development, high growth can be sustained without relying primarily on manufacturing. A process of learning, productivity improvement, and investment that touches all sectors characterises the most successful economies. Policies that artificially favour manufacturing should instead give way to maximising learning from the frontier in all sectors of the economy.
Theodore H. Moran, 30 January 2015
Joining international supply chains has helped some developing nations to industrialise while leaving others by the wayside. This column discusses research that extract lessons from four case studies. It suggests the key to success is combining pro-active investment promotion with customised infrastructure improvements and public-private vocational training that allow investors to fit production from a novel site seamlessly into the company’s international supplier network.
Samuel Marden, 28 December 2014
It is often argued that for poor countries, increases in agricultural productivity result in higher non-agricultural output, but the theory is ambiguous and the empirical evidence is limited. This column presents evidence from a natural experiment provided by China’s early 1980s agricultural reforms. Higher agricultural output induced by the reforms led to quantitatively important growth in non-agricultural output. This growth appears to be primarily due to rural savings increasing the supply of capital to the non-agricultural sector.
Sebastian Edwards, 28 November 2014
The effectiveness of official development aid is the subject of heated debate. This column argues that aid affects recipient economies in extremely complex ways and through multiple and changing channels. Moreover, this is a two-way relationship – realities in recipient countries affect the actions of aid agencies. This relationship is so intricate and time-dependent that it is not amenable to being captured by cross-country or panel regressions. Even sophisticated specifications with multiple breakpoints and nonlinearities are unlikely to explain the inner workings of the aid–performance connection.
Mercedes Delgado, Christian Ketels, Michael Porter, Scott Stern, 18 September 2014
There is a consensus among economists that ‘deep roots’ – geography, natural endowments, and institutions – are important determinants of prosperity differences across countries. This column argues that deep roots matter, but they are neither the whole story nor an excuse for political inaction today. Current policies are important – especially the broad range of policies that shape the business environment and the sophistication of companies – and they are affected but not determined by the past.