Alvaro Espitia, Nadia Rocha, Michele Ruta, 09 April 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is increasingly a concern for developing countries. This column shows that most developing countries rely heavily on imports to meet their needs of medical supplies essential to combat COVID-19. Recently imposed export restrictions by leading producing countries could thus cause significant disruptions in supplies for developing countries and might further contribute to price increases of medical supplies. Taking multiplier effects into account, prices for medical supplies are estimated to rise by up to 23% on average. Tariffs and other restrictions to imports further impair the flow of critical products to developing countries.

Tohid Atashbar, 13 April 2020

There is a growing trend as well as increasing public pressure in developing or emerging economies to follow the US and EU-led approaches to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, without considering local economic settings. This imitation may lead to a worsening of the situation, especially if the pandemic were to last for a longer period of time. This column proposes a framework for a safer policymaking approach, especially for countries with a tighter policy space. Policy responses should be evaluated based on how the resources are generated and spent using a set of pre-defined criteria. 

Toby Phillips, 05 February 2020

In richer developed nations almost 90% of people are online, but this number is less than 20% in the least-developed countries. This column presents the Pathways for Prosperity Commission’s final report, which offers pragmatic suggestions to help developing countries make the most of technological change. It proposes a ‘digital compact’, with countries working towards a shared vision for the future crafted with the input of industry, civil society, and other national leaders.

Susan Ariel Aaronson, 30 January 2020

While data are cheap and plentiful in many developing countries, data analysis, with its dependence on infrastructure and highly skilled labour, is expensive. This column asks whether developing countries are ready for the new data-driven economy and how development organisations might help them. It concludes that developing countries should be encouraged to develop plans for data governance and to experiment through technical assistance, regulatory sandboxes and collaboration. At the same time, development agencies and advocates need to wrestle with important questions about data-driven growth.

Achyuta Adhvaryu, Sadish D, Anant Nyshadham, Jorge Tamayo, 19 August 2019

Managerial quality remains low in firms in developing countries. In the context of the Indian garment industry, this column shows that manager characteristics matter for productivity. It argues that firms might not know what constitutes good management or how valuable it is, and that they could benefit from screening and management training in these qualities.

Prottoy A. Akbar, Victor Couture, Gilles Duranton, Adam Storeygard, 29 June 2019

Urban transportation in developing countries is prioritised for massive investments, yet little is known about the determinants of urban mobility in these countries. This column applies a methodology for measuring the performance of overall motor vehicle transportation in a city to the 154 largest cities in India. It finds that there are substantial differences in mobility speeds across large Indian cities but that the variation is driven primarily by uncongested mobility, not by congestion delays. This implies that typical policy measures attempting to improve urban mobility are missing the mark altogether.

Leandro de la Escosura, 15 June 2019

The concept of human development views wellbeing as being affected by a wide range of factors including health and education. This column examines worldwide long-term wellbeing from 1870-2015 with an augmented historical human development index (AHHDI) that combines new measures of achievements in health, education, material living standards, and political freedom. It shows that world human development has steadily improved over time, although advances have been unevenly distributed across world regions.

Thorsten Beck, Liliana Rojas-Suarez, 04 May 2019

The Global Crisis originated in the financial systems of advanced countries, so it is unsurprising that the Basel III international standards focused on the stability needs of these countries. This column assesses the implications of Basel III for emerging markets and developing economies. It also outlines the recommendations from a task force of current and former senior officials from central banks in these countries on how to make Basel III work for them.  

Al Slivinski, Nathan Sussman, 20 March 2019

The problem of tax compliance is as old as the levying of taxes. Innovations in tax administration that induce high compliance rates at reasonable cost are extremely important to governments. This column demonstrates how the taille, a tax collection mechanism from medieval Paris, raised compliance by turning the social cost of tax evasion into a private one. It offers a tax collection model that is still relevant to governments today.

Emanuel Ornelas, Marcos Ritel, 08 November 2018

Generalised System of Preferences programmes, a form of nonreciprocal tariff cuts, have proliferated since the 1970s. Using a well-documented dataset of international trade agreements, this column studies the effectiveness of the system on beneficiaries’ aggregate exports. It finds that nonreciprocal tariff preferences can have a strong positive effect on the exports of least-developed countries, provided that they are WTO members. Conversely, other developing economies enjoying nonreciprocal preferences are able to increase exports only if they are not WTO members. 

Pedro Bento, Diego Restuccia, 22 October 2018

One way to adjudicate among existing productivity theories for why productivity varies across countries is to examine differences in average establishment size. Using new data covering firms in both manufacturing and services in 127 countries, this column shows that average establishment size increases with the level of development across countries, but the ratio of size between manufacturing and services does not vary systematically with income per capita. Misallocation is therefore an important driver of establishment size and aggregate productivity differences between rich and poor countries.

Thorsten Beck, Emily Jones , Peter Knaack, 15 October 2018

In today’s world of globalised finance, regulators in developing countries have to weigh up the international ramifications of their decisions. This column presents the results of a research project which combines cross-country panel analysis and in-depth case studies of the political economy of the adoption of Basel II/III in the developing world. It finds that regulators in developing countries do not merely adopt Basel II/III because these standards provide the optimal technical solution to financial stability risks in their jurisdictions; concerns about reputation and competition are also important. 

Caroline Freund, Michael Ferrantino, Maryla Maliszewska, Michele Ruta, 24 July 2018

Woori Lee, 30 June 2018

Participation in global value chains is a key element of the industrialisation strategies of developing nations. To date, most research has focused on goods and the manufacturing sector. This column explores the role of services in global value chains. Trade agreements that liberalise services are found to foster global value chain trade, especially for developing country exporters and those that allow service exports without local presence.

Oya Celasun, Bertrand Gruss, 25 May 2018

The manufacturing sector is believed to play a unique role as a catalyst for productivity growth and income convergence, and as a provider of well-paid jobs for less-skilled workers. This column argues, however, that the declining share of manufacturing employment over the past decades need not hurt the income convergence prospects of developing economies and that the loss of manufacturing jobs can only explain a small fraction of the rise in inequality in advanced economies. That said, getting the policies right is key to help countries make the most out of structural transformation. 

Valentin Lang, Marina M. Tavares, 27 April 2018

Globalisation stirs a diverse range of sentiments and views: some credit globalisation for boosting economic well-being while others blame it for worsening inequality. This column examines the effect of globalisation on income among and within countries, and shows that globalisation is associated with income convergence across countries and income divergence within countries. Targeted redistributive policies and investments in education are needed to ensure that the benefits of globalisation are enjoyed by all.

Paul Collier, Anthony Venables, 01 May 2017

Cities are key drivers of economic growth. In this video Paul Collier and Anthony Venables discuss how public policy should create effective cities that work. This video was recorded at the International Growth Centre in March 2017.

Emanuel Ornelas, 14 May 2016

For over half a century, one pillar of the world trading system has been the principle of ‘special and differential treatment’ (SDT) for developing countries. This column explores how SDT has impacted trade policy around the world. Although this strategy aims to help developing countries, in design and practice it seems to be biased against them. While there is no support for SDT as a growth-promoting strategy, there is a clear need for further research that explicitly tackles the empirical challenges that it presents. 

Eva Arceo, Rema Hanna, Paulina Oliva, 16 April 2016

Pollution levels are orders of magnitude higher in lower-income countries than in the developed world. This means that studies of the health effects of pollution based on data from the latter will not necessarily be relevant to the former. This column reports on the effect of air pollution on infant mortality in Mexico City. Significant effects are found that are much larger than found in earlier work based on US data. These findings highlight the potential pitfalls of naively extrapolating findings from high-income to developing countries.

Takanori Ago, Tadashi Morita, Takatoshi Tabuchi, Kazuhiro Yamamoto, 04 January 2016

There are common geographical differences in working hours between countries and regions. Working hours are longer in developing countries, as well as in more urbanised regions compared to rural ones. This column explains these differences with two key factors: production technology and urban agglomeration. Technological progress leads to a decrease in working hours, whereas urban agglomeration leads to an increase.



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