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  • Author: Matt Collin, Theodore Talbot
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Child marriage is associated with bad outcomes for women and girls. Although many countries have raised the legal age of marriage to deter this practice, the incidence of early marriage remains stubbornly high. We develop a simple model to explain how enforcing minimum age-of-marriage laws creates differences in the share of women getting married at the legal cut-off. We formally test for these discontinuities using multiple rounds of the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) in over 60 countries by applying statistical tests derived from the regression discontinuity literature. By this measure, most countries are not enforcing the laws on their books and enforcement is not getting better over time. Separately, we demonstrate that various measures of age-of-marriage discontinuities are systematically related to with existing, widely-accepted measures of rule-of-law and government effectiveness. A key contribution is therefore a simple, tractable way to monitor legal enforcement using survey data. We conclude by arguing that better laws must be accompanied by better enforcement and monitoring in to delay marriage and protect the rights of women and girls.
  • Topic: Development, Gender Issues
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael Clemens, Jennifer Hunt
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: An influential strand of research has tested for the effects of immigration on natives’ wages and employment using exogenous refugee supply shocks as natural experiments. Several studies have reached conflicting conclusions about the effects of noted refugee waves such as the Mariel Boatlift in Miami and post-Soviet refugees to Israel. We show that conflicting findings on the effects of the Mariel Boatlift can be explained by a sudden change in the race composition of the Current Population Survey extracts in 1980, specific to Miami but unrelated to the Boatlift. We also show that conflicting findings on the labor market effects of other important refugee waves can be produced by spurious correlation between the instrument and the endogenous variable introduced by applying a common divisor to both. As a whole, the evidence from refugee waves reinforces the existing consensus that the impact of immigration on average native-born workers is small, and fails to substantiate claims of large detrimental impacts on workers with less than high school.
  • Topic: Refugee Issues, Financial Markets, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • 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: Charles Kenny, Dev Patel
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes six waves of responses from the World Values Survey to understand the determinants of beliefs about women’s roles in society and their relationship with the legal system and outcomes. Using survey data for 300,000 individuals, we find that characteristics of an individual’s home country only explain about a fifth of the variation in values, and a single individual can report strongly different norms about women’s equality across different domains. There is a strong correlation between norms, laws and female labor force participation and between norms and the proportion of legislators who are women—but not between norms and relative female tertiary education. There is some suggestive evidence that laws may be more significant than norms in determining female employment outcomes, but the available evidence does not allow for strong causal statements at the cross-country level.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, International Development
  • 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