Development

Yashaswini Dunga, Nancy Hardie, Stephanie Kelly, Jeremy Lawson, 25 March 2019

As climate change worsens and the forces of populism gather, there is a strong argument for moving beyond narrow economic measures of national progress. This column presents a new indicator of progress that integrates environmental, social, and governance factors into growth analysis. Results show that the countries that have been able to blend economic dynamism with environmental, social, and governance dynamism are mostly developing economies. These countries often fly under the radar of traditional macroeconomic analyses. 

Ofer Malamud, Santiago Cueto, Julian Cristia, Diether W. Beuermann, 08 March 2019

Many governments and NGOs have invested substantial resources in expanding internet access to children in developing countries. This column reports on an experiment in Peru in which laptops and access to the internet were provided to schoolchildren. While those selected to receive a laptop did improve their digital skills, the results suggest that increased access to the internet at home did not improve academic achievement, cognitive or socio-emotional skills, which are arguably the more important outcomes of such interventions.

Cristian Badarinza, Vimal Balasubramaniam, Tarun Ramadorai, 26 February 2019

Over the past few decades there has been great interest in taking formal finance to households around the world, especially in emerging economies. Using micro-level data from six emerging economies – China, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Thailand, and South Africa – this column creates harmonised measures of household assets and liabilities. The findings suggest that there is still much work to be done to truly financialise household balance sheets. There are many differences between the management of wealth between emerging economy and advanced economy households that we do not yet understand. 

István Székely, Melanie Ward-Warmedinger, 23 February 2019

While there is a large literature on the political economy of reforms, surprisingly little is known about reform reversal. Based on an investigation of reform reversals in former transition countries, this column argues that once reforms are introduced, self-enforcing social norms and social learning should catch up with the new reality to create domestic anchors. Social norms have not always been strong enough to outweigh the opportunistic behaviour of politicians seeking short-term windfall gains. External anchors, while helping to protect reforms, cannot replace domestic ones.  

Gabriel Ahlfeldt, Elisabetta Pietrostefani, 22 February 2019

Most countries pursue policies that implicitly or explicitly aim at promoting ‘compact urban form’, but so far these policies have not been well-grounded in evidence. This column summarises the state of knowledge on the economic effects of density on various economic outcomes. It concludes that densification policies may lead to aggregate welfare gains, but there may be regressive distributional consequences.

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