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  • Author: Mayra Buvinic, Megan O'Donnell
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: A review of the recent evaluation evidence on financial services and training interventions questions their gender neutrality and suggests that some design features in these interventions can yield more positive economic outcomes for women than for men. These include features in savings and ‘Graduation’ programs that increase women’s economic self-reliance and self-control, and the practice of repeated micro borrowing that increases financial risk-taking and choice. ‘Smart’ design also includes high quality business management and jobs skills training, and stipends and other incentives in these training programs that address women’s additional time burdens and childcare demands. Peer support may also help to increase financial risk taking and confidence in business decisions, and may augment an otherwise negligible impact of financial literacy training. These features help women overcome gender-related constraints. However, when social norms are too restrictive, and women are prevented from doing any paid work, no design will be smart enough. Subjective economic empowerment appears to be an important intermediate outcome for women that should be promoted and more reliably and accurately measured. More research is also needed on de-biasing service provision, which can be gender biased; lastly, whenever possible, results should be sex-disaggregated and reported for individuals as well as households.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, International Trade and Finance, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall, Liliana Rojas-Suarez, Anna Diofasi
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Despite increasing volatility in the global economy, the uptake of the IMF’s two precautionary credit lines, the Flexible Credit Line (FCL) and the Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL), has remained limited—currently to just four countries. The two new lending instruments were created in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008 to enable IMF member states to respond quickly and effectively to temporary balance of payment needs resulting from external shocks. Both credit lines offer immediate access to considerable sums—over 10 times a country’s IMF quota in some cases with no (FCL) or very limited (PLL) conditionality. This paper addresses four misconceptions (or ‘myths’) that have likely played a role in the limited utilization of the two precautionary credit lines: 1) too stringent qualification criteria that limit country eligibility; 2) insufficient IMF resources; 3) high costs of precautionary borrowing; and 4) the economic stigma associated with IMF assistance. We show, in fact, that the pool of eligible member states is likely to be seven to eight times larger than the number of current users; that with the 2016 quota reform IMF resources are more than adequate to support a larger precautionary portfolio; that the two IMF credit lines are among the least costly and most advantageous instruments for liquidity support countries have; and that there is no evidence of negative market developments for countries now participating in the precautionary lines.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nora Lustig
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Current policy discussion focuses primarily on the power of fiscal policy to reduce inequality. Yet, comparable fiscal incidence analysis for 28 low and middle income countries reveals that, although fiscal systems are always equalizing, that is not always true for poverty. In Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Nicaragua, and Guatemala the extreme poverty headcount ratio is higher after taxes and transfers (excluding in-kind transfers) than before. In addition, to varying degrees, in all countries a portion of the poor are net payers into the fiscal system and are thus impoverished by the fiscal system. Consumption taxes are the main culprits of fiscally-induced impoverishment. Net direct taxes are always equalizing and indirect taxes net of subsidies are equalizing in nineteen countries of the 28. While spending on pre-school and primary school is pro-poor (i.e., the per capita transfer declines with income) in almost all countries, pro-poor secondary school spending is less prevalent, and tertiary education spending tends to be progressive only in relative terms (i.e., equalizing but not pro-poor). Health spending is always equalizing but not always pro-poor. More unequal countries devote more resources to redistributive spending and appear to redistribute more. The latter, however, is not a robust result across specifications.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ali Enami, Nora Lustig, Rodrigo Aranda
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper provides a theoretical foundation for analyzing the redistributive effect of taxes and transfers for the case in which the ranking of individuals by pre-fiscal income remains unchanged. We show that in a world with more than a single fiscal instrument, the simple rule that progressive taxes or transfers are always equalizing not necessarily holds, and offer alternative rules that survive a theoretical scrutiny. In particular, we show that the sign of the marginal contribution unambiguously predicts whether a tax or a transfer is equalizing or not.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus