Michael Ross, 20 April 2012

Michael Ross of UCLA talks to Viv Davies about his book, ‘The Oil Curse: How Petroleum Wealth Shapes the Development of Nations’. They discuss the irony of how those countries with the greatest social and economic deficits are also the most vulnerable to the oil curse and as a result grow less quickly than might be expected given their wealth. [Also read the transcript]

Brandon Fuller, Matthew Kahn, 06 March 2012

In early 2010, two similar earthquakes struck Haiti and later, Chile. The difference in loss of life was stark. This column points to the importance of well-governed and economically developed cities for coping with natural disasters and climate change. The authors propose a novel idea – charter cities built from scratch in the world’s poorest countries with their own rules and, hopefully, their own fast track to development.

Stijn Claessens, Neeltje van Horen, 28 January 2012

Foreign banks on domestic soil have always been controversial. This column presents a newly collected, comprehensive database on bank ownership for 137 countries over the period 1995–2009. It shows that current market shares of foreign banks average 20% in OECD countries and 50% elsewhere. In developing countries, however, foreign bank presence is correlated with less private credit.

Fernando Borraz, Nicolás González-Pampillón, Marcelo Olarreaga, 16 July 2011

“Many of the wars of this century were about oil, but those of the next century will be over water”. So said Ismail Serageldin, a senior environmentalist at the World Bank, in an interview with Newsweek in 1995. This column explores whether nationalising the provision of water can help avoid the sort of desperation that might make this statement come true.

Paul Collier, 08 July 2011

Paul Collier of Oxford University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about how low-income countries that are rich in natural resources can harness the opportunity for development in a way that benefits all their citizens. The interview was recorded in June 2011 after a ‘blue-sky’ conference on development policy-making organised by CAGE, the Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy at the University of Warwick. [Also read the transcript]

Matthias Doepke, Michèle Tertilt, 20 June 2011

Evidence suggests that putting money in the hands of mothers (as opposed to their husbands) benefits children. Does this mean targeting transfers to women is good economic policy? The authors of CEPR DP8441 find that different forms of empowering women may lead to opposite results. More research is needed to distinguish between alternative theoretical models.

Jean-Pierre Chauffour, 15 June 2011

The Arab Spring is again raising fundamental questions about the place of freedom and entitlement in economic development. Reviewing the performance of more than 100 countries over the past 30 years, this column finds evidence that economic freedom and civil and political liberties are the root causes of why certain countries achieve and sustain better economic outcomes than others.

Paul Romer, 10 June 2011

Paul Romer of NYU’s Stern School of Business talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his vision of dysfunctional poor countries kick-starting their own development by creating new cities with new rules – what he calls ‘charter cities’. The interview was recorded in London in June 2011 at a ‘blue-sky’ conference on development policy-making organised by CAGE, the Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy at the University of Warwick. [Also read the transcript.]

Uwe Sunde, Florian Jung, 30 May 2011

This paper revisits the seminal correlation first noted by SM Lipset in 1959: Almost without exception, stable democracies are economically well-developed. Why? The authors argue that democracy will stick only in fairly balanced economic environments. Distribution appears to matter for the longevity of democracy.

Nicholas Bloom, Aprajit Mahajan, David McKenzie, John Roberts, 13 April 2011

“The Office”, a popular British television programme, has been shown in more than 50 countries. Its international appeal likely stems from its universal theme: managerial incompetence. This column looks at the case of India and shows how the poor management of its companies is holding the country back.

Eduardo Levy Yeyati, 03 April 2011

Conventional wisdom states that financial globalisation has been advancing since the mid-1980s, particularly in developing countries. It also states that this should have fostered international portfolio diversification and consumption smoothing. But this column takes a closer look at the data and argues that neither financial globalisation nor portfolio diversification has grown significantly in emerging markets over that period.

Svetlana Andrianova, Panicos Demetriades, David Fielding, Badi H Baltagi, 25 March 2011

International donors provide large amounts of financial capital to Africa in the form of aid and grants, but there are also large financial flows in the opposite direction. Many African banks invest large sums abroad and lend relatively little to local businesses. This column explains that this is because many banks suffer from a shortage of information about the creditworthiness of some of their customers.

Martin Ravallion, 23 January 2011

Measuring and comparing the level of human development across the world continues to be a highly contentious issue. This column argues that the new Human Development Index has – perhaps inadvertently – sharply reduced its valuation of longevity, raising doubts about whether it is sending the right signals to the governments of poor countries aiming to promote human development.

Giorgia Giovannetti, Marco Sanfilippo, 23 January 2011

Can developing countries afford large social-protection programmes, such as unemployment benefits or medical insurance? Summarising studies from across Africa, this column finds that such programmes are politically, fiscally, and administratively feasible – even for low-income Sub-Saharan African countries – and on a scale and scope previously thought out of reach.

Nauro Campos, Ralitza Dimova, 24 December 2010

Does corruption sand or grease the wheels of economic growth? This column reviews recent research that uses meta-analysis techniques to try to provide more concrete answers to this old-age question. From a unique, comprehensive data base of 460 estimates of the impact of corruption on growth from 41 studies, the main conclusion that emerges is that there is little support for the “greasing the wheels” hypothesis.

Raphael Auer, 10 December 2010

Do skill-intensive imports from rich nations reduce skill accumulation in emerging economies? This column presents new evidence from 41 emerging economies to suggest that being close to the global supply of skilled labour decreases domestic human capital. A one-standard deviation higher geographic proximity to skilled labour is associated with a 12% lower average education length of the country’s workforce. This may have profound consequences for the ability of poorer nations to catch up with richer ones.

Xavier Sala-i-Martin, Maxim Pinkovskiy, 06 December 2010

Sub-Saharan Africa has made little progress in reducing extreme poverty, according to the latest Millennium Development Report. This column presents evidence from 1970 to 2006 to the contrary.

David Cuberes, 01 December 2010

How do cities develop and grow? This column presents historical data from a large number of cities in several countries. It finds that there are a few cities that grow much faster than the rest; the first cities to grow quickly are the largest; and this pattern of sequential city growth is more pronounced in periods of rapid growth in urban population.

Axel Dreher, Peter Nunnenkamp, Hannes Öhler, 26 November 2010

Performance-based aid provides a promising alternative to the failed traditional approach but hardly any empirical evidence exists on its effectiveness in inducing reforms. This column provides new evidence from the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s impact on corruption. It suggests performance-based aid can lead to reforms but only if uncertainty about the timeliness and amount of aid rewards is avoided.

Nauro Campos, Fabrizio Coricelli, 22 November 2010

Conditional cash transfer programmes are now a central part of the debate on social protection policies. So far the emphasis has been on “conditional”. This column focuses on the “cash” and suggests that it might benefit financial development – and that this possibility should be explored at the very least.