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  • Author: Lant Pritchett, Yamini Aiyar
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: There are two dominant narratives about taxation. In one, taxes are the “price we pay for a civilized society” (Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.). In this view taxes are not a necessary evil (as in the pairing of “death and taxes” as inevitable) but a positive good: more taxes buy more “civilization.” The other view is that taxes are “tribute to Leviathan”—a pure involuntary extraction from those engaged in economic production to those who control coercive power producing no reciprocal benefit. In this view taxes are a bane of the civilized. We consider the question of taxes as price versus tribute for contemporary India.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Governance, Budget
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Michael Clemens
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Skilled workers have a rising tendency to emigrate from developing countries, raising fears that their departure harms the poor. To mitigate such harm, researchers have proposed a variety of policies designed to tax or restrict high-skill migration. Those policies have been justified as Pigovian regulations to raise efficiency by internalizing externalities, and as non-Pigovian regulations grounded in equity or ethics. This paper challenges both sets of justifications, arguing that Pigovian regulations on skilled emigration are inefficient and non-Pigovian regulations are inequitable and unethical. It concludes by discussing a different class of policy intervention that, in contrast, has the potential to raise welfare.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Rights, Human Welfare, Immigration, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Lant Pritchett, Yamini Aiyar
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We combine newly created data on per student government expenditure on children in government elementary schools across India, data on per student expenditure by households on students attending private elementary schools, and the ASER measure of learning achievement of students in rural areas. The combination of these three sources allows us to compare both the “accounting cost” difference of public and private schools and also the “economic cost”—what it would take public schools, at their existing efficacy in producing learning, to achieve the learning results of the private sector. We estimate that the “accounting cost” per student in a government school in the median state in 2011/12 was Rs. 14,615 while the median child in private school cost Rs. 5,961. Hence in the typical Indian state, educating a student in government school costs more than twice as much than in private school, a gap of Rs. 7,906. Just these accounting cost gaps aggregated state by state suggests an annual excess of public over private cost of children enrolled in government schools of Rs. 50,000 crores (one crore=10 million) or .6 percent of GDP. But even that staggering estimate does not account for the observed learning differentials between public and private. We produce a measure of inefficiency that combines both the excess accounting cost and a money metric estimate of the cost of the inefficacy of lower learning achievement. This measure is the cost at which government schools would be predicted to reach the learning levels of the private sector. Combining the calculations of accounting cost differentials plus the cost of reaching the higher levels of learning observed in the private sector state by state (as both accounting cost differences and learning differences vary widely across states) implies that the excess cost of achieving the existing private learning levels at public sector costs is Rs. 232,000 crores (2.78% of GDP, or nearly US$50 billion). It might seem counterintuitive that the total loss to inefficiency is larger than the actual budget, but that is because the actual budget produces such low levels of learning at such high cost that when the loss from both higher expenditures and lower outputs are measured it exceeds expenditures.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Privatization, Reform
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: Amanda Glassman, Denizhan Duran, Rachel Silverman, Victoria Fan
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: More than ever, global health funding agencies must get better value for money from their investment portfolios; to do so, each agency must know the interventions it supports and the sub-populations targeted by those interventions in each country.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Economics, Health, Humanitarian Aid, Health Care Policy
  • Political Geography: India, Philippines, Ethiopia, Nigeria
  • Author: Victoria Fan, Anup Karan, Ajay Mahal
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In 2007, the state of Andhra Pradesh in southern India began rolling out the Aarogyasri health insurance to reduce catastrophic health expenditures in households “below the poverty line.” We exploit variation in program roll-out over time and districts to evaluate the impacts of the scheme using difference-in-differences. Our results suggest that, within the first year of implementation, Phase I of Aarogyasri significantly reduced out-of-pocket inpatient expenditures and, to a lesser extent, outpatient expenditures. These results are robust to checks using quantile regression and matching methods. No clear effects on catastrophic health expenditures or medical impoverishment are seen. Aarogyasri is not benefiting scheduled caste and scheduled tribe households as much as the rest of the population.
  • Topic: Health, Poverty, Health Care Policy
  • Political Geography: India, Asia, Andhra Pradesh
  • Author: Frances Zelazny
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: India has embarked on an ambitious new program to provide its citizens and residents a unique, official identity. The UID (Universal ID) program aims to improve the delivery of government services, reduce fraud and corruption, facilitate robust voting processes, and improve security. It is by far the largest application of biometric identification technology to date and will have far-reaching implications for other developing countries that are looking to adopt national ID programs to further social and economic development. This paper discusses the evolution of the UID program, the innovative organization and pathbreaking technology behind it, how it is being rolled out, and how robust ID is beginning to be used.
  • Topic: Corruption, Crime, Democratization, Development, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Devesh Kapur, Kishore Gawande, Shanker Satyanath
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Is there a causal relationship between shocks to renewable natural resources, such as agricultural and forest lands, and the intensity of conflict? In this paper, we conduct a rigorous econometric analysis of a civil conflict that the Indian Prime Minister has called the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by his country, the so-called Maoist conflict. We focus on over-time within-district variation in the intensity of conflict in the states where this conflict is primarily located. Using a novel data set of killings, we find that adverse renewable resource shocks have a robust, significant association with the intensity of conflict. A one standard deviation decrease in our measure of renewable resources increases killings by 12.5 percent contemporaneously, 9.7 percent after a year, and 42.2 percent after two years. Our instrumental variables strategy allows us to interpret these findings in a causal manner.
  • Topic: Security, Agriculture, Economics, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Francis Fukuyama, Nancy Birdsall
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: A clear shift in the development agenda is underway. Traditionally, an agenda generated in the developed world was implemented in—and, indeed, often imposed on—the developing world. The United States, Europe, and Japan will continue to be significant sources of economic resources and ideas, but the emerging markets will become significant players. Countries such as Brazil, China, India, and South Africa will be both donors and recipients of resources for development and of best practices for how to use them. In fact, development has never been something that the rich bestowed on the poor but rather something the poor achieved for themselves. It appears that the Western powers are finally waking up to this truth in light of a financial crisis that, for them, is by no means over.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Poverty, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe, India, South Africa, Brazil
  • Author: Devesh Kapur, Milan Vaishnav
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In developing countries where elections are costly and accountability mechanisms weak, politicians often turn to illicit means of financing campaigns. This paper examines one such channel of illicit campaign finance: India's real estate sector. Politicians and builders allegedly engage in a quid pro quo, whereby the former park their illicit assets with the latter, and the latter rely on the former for favorable dispensation. At election time, however, builders need to re-route funds to politicians as a form of indirect election finance. One observable implication is that the demand for cement, the indispensible raw material used in the sector, should contract during elections since builders need to inject funds into campaigns. Using a novel monthly-level data set, we demonstrate that cement consumption does exhibit a political business cycle consistent with our hypothesis. Additional tests provide confidence in the robustness and interpretation of our findings.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: David Wheelter, Saurabh Shome
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Until recently, India's intransigent negotiating posture has conveyed the impression that it will not accept any carbon emissions limits without full compensation and more stringent carbon limitation from rich countries. However, our assessment of India's proposed renewable energy standard (RES) indicates that this impression is simply wrong. India is seriously considering a goal of 15 percent renewable energy in its power mix by 2020, despite the absence of any meaningful international pressure to cut emissions, no guarantees of compensatory financing, and a continuing American failure to adopt stringent emissions limits. If India moves ahead with this plan, it will promote a massive shift of new power capacity toward renewables within a decade. We estimate the incremental cost of this change from coal-fired to renewable power to be about $50 billion-an enormous sum for a society that must still cope with widespread extreme poverty. If India moves ahead with its current plan, it should give serious pause to those who have resisted U.S. carbon regulation on the grounds on that it will confer a cost advantage on "intransigent" countries such as India.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Environment
  • Political Geography: United States, America, India