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  • Author: Michael Clemens
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This study uses a unique natural experiment to test a simple model of international differences in workers' wages and productivity. Large differences in wages across countries could arise from several sources. These include barriers to trade in outputs, differences in technology, differences in workers, or differences in the other factors of production accessible in different countries. To measure the relative importance of these sources in one setting, this study exploits the randomized processing of U.S. visas for a group of Indian workers who produce software within a single multinational firm. In this setting, international barriers to trade in outputs, barriers to technology transfer, and all observable or unobservable differences between workers are extremely low. The results indicate that location outside of India causes a sixfold increase in the wages of the same worker using the same technology to produce a highly tradable good. Under plausible assumptions about competition in the industry, this suggests that country-of-work by itself is responsible—in this industry—for roughly three-quarters of the gap in productivity between workers in India and workers in the richest countries. These findings have implications for open questions in labor, growth, international, and development economics.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States, India
  • Author: Kevin Ummel
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Coal power generation in China and India is expected to double and triple, respectively, over the next 20 years, increasing exposure to fuel price volatility, exacerbating local air pollution, and hastening global climate change. Concentrating solar power (CSP) is a growing source of utility-scale, pollution-free electricity, but its potential in Asia remains largely unexamined. High-resolution spatial data are used to identify areas suitable for CSP and estimate power generation and cost under alternative land-use scenarios. Total technical potential exceeds current coal power output by a factor of 16 to 23 in China and 3 to 4 in India. A CSP expansion program and attendant transmission requirements are simulated with the goal of providing 20 percent of electricity in both countries by midcentury. Under conservative assumptions, the program is estimated to require subsidies of $340 billion in present dollars; coal-associated emissions of 96 GtCO2eq are averted at an average abatement cost of $30 per tCO2eq. Estimated costs are especially sensitive to the assumed rate of technological learning, emphasizing the importance of committed public policy and financing to reduce investment risk, encourage expansion of manufacturing capacity, and achieve long-term cost reductions. The results highlight the need for spatially explicit modeling of renewable power technologies and suggest that existing subsidies might be better used through integrated planning for large-scale solar and wind deployment that exploits spatiotemporal complementarities and shared infrastructure.
  • Topic: Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: China, India
  • Author: Lant Pritchett, Michael Woolcock, Matt Andrews
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Many countries remain stuck in conditions of low productivity that many call “poverty traps.” Economic growth is only one aspect of development; another key dimension of development is the expansion of the administrative capability of the state, the capability of governments to affect the course of events by implementing policies and programs. We use a variety of empirical indicators of administrative capability to show that many countries remain in “state capability traps” in which the implementation capability of the state is both severely limited and improving (if at all) only very slowly. At their current pace of progress countries like Haiti or Afghanistan or Liberia would take hundreds (if not thousands) of years to reach the capability of a country like Singapore and decades to reach even a moderate capability country like India. We explore how this can be so. That is, we do not attempt to explain why countries remain in capability traps; this would require a historical, political and social analysis uniquely applied to each country. Rather, we focus on how countries manage to engage in the domestic and international logics of “development” and yet consistently fail to acquire capability. What are the techniques of failure? Two stand out. First, 'big development' encourages progress through importing standard responses to predetermined problems. This encourages isomorphic mimicry as a technique of failure: the adoption of the forms of other functional states and organizations which camouflages a persistent lack of function. Second, an inadequate theory of developmental change reinforces a fundamental mismatch between expectations and the actual capacity of prevailing administrative systems to implement even the most routine administrative tasks. This leads to premature load bearing, in which wishful thinking about the pace of progress and unrealistic expectations about the level and rate of improvement of capability lead to stresses and demands on systems that cause capability to weaken (if not collapse). We conclude with some suggestive directions for sabotaging these techniques of failure.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, India, Liberia
  • Author: Tom Slayton
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The world rice market was aflame last spring and for several months it looked as if the trading edifice that had exhibited such resilience over the last two decades was going to burn to the ground. World prices trebled within less than four months and reached a 30- year inflation-adjusted high. Many market observers thought the previous record set in 1974 would soon be toast. The fire was man-made, not the result of natural developments. While the governments in India, Vietnam, and the Philippines did not to set the world market on fire, that was the unintended result of their actions which threatened both innocent bystanders (low-income rice importers as far away as Africa and Latin America) and, ultimately, poor rice consumers at home. This paper describes what sparked the fire and the accelerants that made a bad situation nearly catastrophic. Fortuitously, when the flames were raging at peak intensity, rain clouds appeared, the winds [market psychology] shifted, and conditions on the ground improved, allowing the fire to die down. It remains to be seen, however, if the trading edifice has been seriously undermined by the actions of decision makers in several key Asian rice exporting and importing countries. In describing the cascading negative effects of these seemingly rational domestic policies, this paper aims to help policy makers in the rice exporting and importing nations to avoid a repeat of the disastrous price spike of 2008.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Health, Humanitarian Aid, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Africa, India, Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian, Aaditya Mattoo
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper documents an unusual and possibly significant phenomenon: the export of skills, embodied in goods, services or capital from poorer to richer countries. We first present a set of stylized facts. Using a measure which combines the sophistication of a country's exports with the average income level of destination countries, we show that the performance of a number of developing countries, notably China, Mexico and South Africa, matches that of much more advanced countries, such as Japan, Spain and USA. Creating a new combined dataset on FDI (covering greenfield investment as well as mergers and acquisitions) we show that flows of FDI to OECD countries from developing countries like Brazil, India, Malaysia and South Africa as a share of their GDP, are as large as flows from countries like Japan, Korea and the US. Then, taking the work of Hausmann et al (2007) as a point of departure, we suggest that it is not just the composition of exports but their destination that matters. In both cross-sectional and panel regressions, with a range of controls, we find that a measure of uphill flows of sophisticated goods is significantly associated with better growth performance. These results suggest the need for a deeper analysis of whether development benefits might derive not from deifying comparative advantage but from defying it.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Malaysia, India, South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Korea
  • Author: Lant Pritchett, Martina Viarengo
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Does the government control of school systems facilitate equality in school quality? There is a trade-off. On the one hand, government direct control of schools, typically through a large scale hierarchical organization, could produce equalization across schools by providing uniformity in inputs, standards, and teacher qualifications that localized individually managed schools could not achieve. But there is a tendency for large scale formal bureaucracies to “see” less and less of localized reality and hence to manage on the basis of a few simple, objective, and easily administratively verified characteristics (e.g. resources per student, formal teacher qualifications). Whether centralized or localized control produces more equality depends therefore not only on what “could” happen in principle but what does happen in practice. When government implementation capacity is weak, centralized control could lead to only the illusion of equality: in which central control of education with weak internal or external accountability actually allows for much greater inequalities across schools than entirely “uncontrolled” local schools. Data from Pakistan, using results from the LEAPS study, and from two states of India show much larger variance in school quality (adjusted for student characteristics) among the government schools—because of very poor public schools which continue in operation. We use the PISA data to estimate school specific learning achievement (in mathematics, science, and reading) net of individual student and school average background characteristics and compare public and private schools for 34 countries. For these countries there is, on average, exactly the same inequality in adjusted learning achievement across the private schools as across the public schools. But while inequality is the same on average, in some countries, such as Denmark, there was much more equality within the public sector while in others, such as Mexico, there was much more inequality among the public schools. Among the 18 non-OECD participating PISA countries the standard deviation across schools in adjusted quality was, on average, 36 percent higher in government than in private schools. In cases with weak states the proximate cause of high inequality again was that the public sector distribution of performance had a long left tail—schools with extremely poor performance. Relying on blinded weak states for top-down control of educational systems can be lose-lose relative to localized systems relying on bottom-up control—producing worse average performance and higher inequality.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Government, Political Economy, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, India
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall, Jan von der Goltz
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In the run-up to the December 2009 Copenhagen climate conference, the authors surveyed members of the international development community with a special interest in climate change on three sets of detailed questions: (1) what action different country groups should take to limit climate change; (2) how much non-market funding there should be for emissions reductions and adaptation in developing countries, and how it should be allocated; and (3) which institutions should be involved in delivering climate assistance, and how the system should be governed. About 500 respondents from 88 countries completed the survey between November 19–24, 2009. About a third of the respondents grew up in developing countries, although some of them now live in developed countries. A broad majority of respondents from both developing and developed countries held very similar views on the responsibilities of the two different country groups, including on issues that have been very controversial in the negotiations. Most favored binding commitments now by developed countries, and commitments by 2020 by \'advanced developing countries\' (Brazil, China, India, South Africa and others), limited use of offsets by developed countries, strict monitoring of compliance with commitments, and the use of trade measures (e.g. carbon-related tariffs) only in very narrow circumstances. Respondents from developing countries favored larger international transfers than those from developed countries, but the two groups share core ideas on how transfers should be allocated. Among institutional options for managing climate programs, a plurality of respondents from developed (48 percent) and developing (56 percent) countries preferred a UN-managed world climate fund, while many from both groups also embraced the UN Adaptation Fund\'s approach, which is to accredit national institutions within countries which are eligible to manage implementation of projects that the Fund finances. Among approaches to governance, the most support went to the Climate Investment Fund model—of equal representation of developing and developed countries on the board.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: China, India, South Africa, Brazil, United Nations
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian, Aaditya Mattoo, Dominique van der Mensbrugghe, Jianwu He
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Most economic analyses of climate change have focused on the aggregate impact on countries of mitigation actions. We depart first in disaggregating the impact by sector, focusing particularly on manufacturing output and exports because of the potential growth consequences. Second, we decompose the impact of an agreement on emissions reductions into three components: the change in the price of carbon due to each country's emission cuts per se; the further change in this price due to emissions tradability; and the changes due to any international transfers (private and public). Manufacturing output and exports in low carbon intensity countries such as Brazil are not adversely affected. In contrast, in high carbon intensity countries, such as China and India, even a modest agreement depresses manufacturing output by 6-7 percent and manufacturing exports by 9-11 percent. The increase in the carbon price induced by emissions tradability hurts manufacturing output most while the Dutch disease effects of transfers hurt exports most. If the growth costs of these structural changes are judged to be substantial, the current policy consensus, which favors emissions tradability (on efficiency grounds) supplemented with financial transfers (on equity grounds), needs re-consideration.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: China, India, Brazil
  • Author: David Roodman
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Commitment to Development Index (CDI) ranks 21 of the world's richest countries on their dedication to policies that benefit the five billion people living in poorer nations. Moving beyond simple comparisons of foreign aid, the CDI ranks countries on seven themes: quantity and quality of foreign aid, openness to developing-country exports, policies that influence investment, migration policies, stewardship of the global environment, security policies and support for creation and dissemination of new technologies.
  • Topic: Environment, Industrial Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, India, Asia, Brazil