Federico Rossi, 12 May 2022

How does the productivity of different types of workers vary across countries? This column uses micro data from countries at different levels of development to document that highly educated workers are relatively more productive in rich countries. Exploiting variation in the skill premia of foreign-educated migrants, the author concludes that this is mostly due to the technological environment in rich countries being more complementary to high-skill labour.   

Maksym Chepeliev, Maryla Maliszewska, Maria Filipa Seara e Pereira, 06 May 2022

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is disrupting global supplies of essential commodities, pushing prices higher, slowing trade, and driving down incomes. This column argues that developing countries that are large agricultural and energy importers are being hit hardest. While some commodity exporters might be able to step up exports to benefit from increasing global prices, they could experience a restructuring of their trade patterns, resulting in a lower integration into global value chains. Consumers across the world are worse off, with the poorest being impacted the most adversely.

James Robinson, 05 May 2022

Although a key determinant of poverty in Africa is the under-provision of public services, the preference for lower taxation and fewer public goods remains widespread. This column proposes a new explanation for why African tax revenues are so low. Rather than rely on standard arguments about accountability and governance, the author uncovers deep-seated ideas about the nature of the state and its threat to the autonomy of society. Historically, social contracts in Africa rarely featured taxation. Building fiscal systems is therefore not simply a technical or human resources problem, but a political one.

Jack Thiemel, 29 April 2022

Microfinance has helped millions of the world's poor build better lives. But can it help the world's poorest people, who spend most of their lives growing food to feed their families, to diversify into other jobs? Jack Thiemel tells Tim Phillips about the impact of one of these projects, and what it tells us about the best ways to help the ultra-poor.

Download the free DP and read more about this research: 
Bandiera, O, Burgess, R, Deserranno, E, Morel, R, Rasul, I, Sulaiman, M and Thiemel, J. 2022. 'Microfinance and Diversification'.  CEPR

Balázs Égert, Christine de La Maisonneuve, David Turner, 28 April 2022

Investing in education and human capital is an important ingredient for economic growth. This column constructs a new aggregate stock measure of human capital data using OECD data on adult skills, quality of education, and mean years of schooling. The relative weights of quality and quantity are estimated rather than imposed, as they are in the existing literature. Improvements in human capital are estimated to boost productivity significantly, but only with long lags. Furthermore, simulating the impact of pre-primary education on human capital and productivity demonstrates the usefulness of the new measure for policy analysis.

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