Jutta Bolt, Robert Inklaar, Herman de Jong, Jan Luiten van Zanden, 25 January 2018

Research on long-run economic development has relied heavily on the database compiled by Angus Maddison. This column presents a new version of the Maddison Project Database based on historical growth data, but also incorporating historical cross-country income comparisons. The revisions shed new light on patterns of long-term development and cross-country income convergence.

Vito Amendolagine, Andrea Presbitero, Roberta Rabellotti, Marco Sanfilippo, 24 January 2018

A new wave of foreign direct investment has swept sub-Saharan African countries, with inflows becoming more diversified both geographically and sectorally. This column presents an analysis that shows a high degree of complementarity between involvement in global value chains and FDI. Policies supporting the entry and upgrading of countries in such chains – especially via a strong institutional setting and a well-educated labour force – can help maximise the spillovers from foreign investment.

Ruth Greenspan Bell, 10 January 2018

Should countries keep extracting natural resources? In this video, Ruth Greenspan Bell discusses the challenge of promoting development while protecting the environment. This video was recorded at UNU-WIDER in May 2016.

Raul Sanchez de la Sierra, 19 December 2017

We have theories of why states form, but until now no systematic data on the process. This column uses a new dataset on 650 locations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to explain why armed actors may create the functions of a state. When a village's output was valuable but could not easily be taxed, armed actors developed sophisticated fiscal and legal administrations to extract revenue. Household welfare improved only when these stationary bandits had ties to the population.

Céline Carrère, Marcelo Olarreaga, Damian Raess, 15 December 2017

Protecting workers through the inclusion of labour clauses in trade agreements has become more common since the first such causes were included in NAFTA, but some argue that by increasing labour costs in developing countries, they represent a form of protectionism. This column uses new data to argue that there is no evidence for adverse effects on trade from labour clauses. When such clauses are strong, and if they emphasise cooperation in their implementation, they have a positive effect on the commercial interests of developing countries.

Joseph Stiglitz, 20 November 2017

Finding the right balance between the role of the state and the market is key for susccesful development. In this video, Joseph Stiglitz explains why they should complement each other. This video was recorded at the UNU-WIDER 30th anniversary conference in Helsinki in September 2015.

Susanne Frick, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 20 October 2017

Big cities have historically been seen as an important prerequisite for a country’s economic growth. In recent decades, however, developing countries have rapidly urbanised, and large cities are increasingly found in relatively poor countries. This column uses a new dataset to revisit the relationship between city size and economic growth. It finds that relatively small cities (with populations under three million) have been more conducive to economic growth, while very large cities are only growth-enhancing in countries with a very large urban population.

Martin Ravallion, Shaohua Chen, 15 September 2017

Past studies have measured poverty in either relative terms (mostly in the developed countries) or absolute terms (the developing world). This column presents a new unified approach to global poverty that assumes that people care about both their own income and their income relative to others in their country of residence. The study finds that global poverty has declined more in absolute terms than in relative terms. The vast bulk of the relatively poor now live in the developing world. The advanced countries have seen little progress against poverty, unlike the developing world.

The Editors, 22 June 2017

VoxEU is pleased to announce the launch of its new sister site – VoxDev.org. VoxDEV will focus on development issues, posting research-based analysis and commentary by leading economists. The Editor-in-Chief is Tavneet Suri, Professor of Economics at MIT.

Ejaz Ghani, Stephen O'Connell, 15 June 2017

There are concerns that the premature deindustrialisation experienced by low-income countries in Africa and South Asia will negatively affect their growth. This column argues that this is not the case, since services, rather than manufacturing, are driving growth in the developing world. While demographics and urbanisation can help growth in low-income countries, the low quality of physical infrastructure is a major challenge.

Ejaz Ghani, Arti Grover Goswami, Sari Pekkala Kerr, William Kerr, 06 May 2017

Developing countries around the world are implementing structural reforms and pro-competitive policies to promote growth, but the impact of this on gender equity is unclear. This column examines the case of India, one of the world’s fastest growing countries, and finds that gender equality has not improved. Policymakers must do more to eliminate gender discrimination. They have an opportunity to not only improve the allocative efficiency of factors and increase growth, but also create an environment of equal opportunity for all, by targeting domestic market competition. 

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You are invited to submit a paper for the workshop on “Globalization and Development”. The workshop is sponsored by NOVAFRICA and the World Bank and will take place at Nova School of Business and Economics in Lisbon, on June 9, 2017.

It will feature around 6 papers, and a keynote speech by Eric Verhoogen (Columbia University).

The topics of the workshop include, but are not limited to:

The impacts of global economic integration (through trade, migration, and capital flows) on:
Economic development,
Local labor markets,
Firm-level decisions.

Globalization and economic growth: measurement issues and dynamics;

The adjustment costs associated with economic integration and the role of social programs and policies in reducing these costs.

The deadline is May 5, 2017. Authors of the selected papers will be informed by May 12th. If you would like to submit a paper, please send a draft by email with the subject: “2017NOVAFRICA-WBWorkshop” to [email protected].

M. Ayhan Kose, Csilla Lakatos, Franziska Ohnsorge, Marc Stocker, 27 February 2017

A growth surge in the world’s largest economy could provide a significant boost to global activity. In contrast, uncertainty about the direction of US policies could have the opposite effect. This column investigates spillover channels linking the US and the global economy. An acceleration in US growth would have positive effects for the rest of the world if not counterbalanced by increased trade barriers. However, policy uncertainty could hamper global growth, and could have particularly bad effects on investment growth in emerging and developing economies.

Stelios Michalopoulos, Elias Papaioannou, 23 January 2017

Over the past decades, economists working on growth have ‘rediscovered’ the importance of history, leading to the emergence of a vibrant, far-reaching inter-disciplinary stream of work.  This column introduces a new eBook in three volumes which examines key themes in this emergent literature and discusses the impact they have on our understanding of the long-run influence of historical events on current economics.

Harald Fadinger, Christian Ghiglino, Mariya Teteryatnikova, 24 December 2016

Economists are just starting to understand how observed input-output linkages and productivity differences are connected. This column investigates how differences in the distribution of sectoral input-output multipliers interact with sectoral productivities to determine cross-country differences in aggregate income. It finds that the impact of the linkages on productivity are substantial, which in turn has significant implications for policy.

Christopher Blattman, Stefan Dercon, 20 December 2016

African countries are scrambling to bring industrial firms into the continent, and workers face a choice between industrial jobs and self-employment. This column reports the results of a randomised controlled trial of 1,000 job applicants in Ethiopia, which suggests that industrial workers earned no more in a year than those given training as entrepreneurs, and had higher disability rates. Two-thirds of industrial workers chose to quit, suggesting that low wages and poor working conditions are a concern for policymakers who promote industrialisation.

Axel Dreher, Sarah Langlotz, Silvia Marchesi, 02 December 2016

Despite its many benefits, donor governments show little enthusiasm for budget aid, instead preferring to give project aid over which they have greater control. This column argues that budget aid is better than project-specific aid because it attributes full responsibility of expenditure to the recipient government, allowing voters to respond at the ballot boxes to how well the aid is used.

Vincenzo Bove, Leandro Elia, 16 November 2016

There is much dispute over whether immigration is beneficial or detrimental to the host country, and any conclusions are often event-driven rather than evidence-based. This column explores evidence on how immigration affected economic development between 1960 and 2013 through its effect on the cultural and ethnic composition of the destination country. Cultural heterogeneity appears to have had a positive impact on economic development, and the positive effect of diversity seems to have been stronger in developing countries.

Nava Ashraf, 26 October 2016

Delivering public services effectively is crucial for development. Nava Ashraf discusses her research on the importance of getting the right people for public sector jobs. This video was recorded at the International Growth Centre.

Brock Smith, Thomas McGregor, Samuel Wills, 28 August 2016

One of the biggest challenges in fighting poverty is to know where it is. This column describes a new way to measure poverty by using satellites to count people who live in darkness at night. This shows that the economic benefits of oil booms don’t trickle down to the very poor.

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