Development

Juan Felipe Riaño, Felipe Valencia Caicedo, 29 November 2020

Studies of the short-term impact that armed conflicts have on economic development abound, but there is little consensus about their long-term legacy. This column evaluates the enduring effects of the US government’s ‘Secret War’ in Laos, waged from 1964 to 1975. As a result of the intense bombing campaign, Laos is now severely contaminated with unexploded ordnance, which has impaired Laotians’ health, education, and migration choices. These factors have in turn hindered the structural transformation and economic growth of the country, which remains one of the world’s poorest. ro come

Steven Poelhekke, 27 November 2020

Africa's roads were originally built so that colonial powers could extract its natural wealth. What has happened since then? Steven Poelhekke of the University of Auckland examines the maps with Tim Phillips.

Thilo Albers, Morten Jerven, Marvin Suesse, 22 November 2020

Why do large differences in tax revenues between states exist and persist? This column introduces a comprehensive new dataset of tax and revenue collection for all African polities from 1900 to 2015 to answer this central question. The results confirm the importance of democratic institutions and political stability, while de-emphasising the role of resource revenues. Overall, states in Africa have been able to build institutions for the collection of ‘hard’ taxes when the preconditions were favourable, especially when access to external finance was limited. These insights add important nuance to established theories of state-building in developing countries.

Peter Egger, Gabriel Loumeau, Nicole Loumeau, 03 November 2020

China’s transport infrastructure network has experienced unprecedented growth, both in terms of length and quality, in the last two decades. Using hand-collected and digitised data on the Chinese road and railway networks over time, this column discusses the magnitude and the long-run consequences of the country’s transport infrastructure changes. It finds that increased network centrality fosters regional convergence in population and, to a lesser extent, in real per-capita incomes. Facilitated goods transport and increased technology diffusion contribute the lion’s share of these effects.

Peter Holmes, Julia Magntorn Garrett, Jim Rollo, 15 October 2020

The global economy appears to be shifting from a rules-based to a power-based trading system. This column argues that a high degree of coherence in the values projected by its member states can help the EU harness its soft power to promote its policy objectives externally. Using a similarity index to explore the coherence of trade-related aid objectives between the institutions of the EU and four key member states, it finds what the authors call a ‘positive complementarity’, whereby EU institutions and the member states currently promote similar but not identical aims.

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