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  • Author: David Wheeler, Susmita Dasgupta, Benoit Laplante, Siobhan Murray
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: As the climate changes during the 21st century, larger cyclonic storm surges and growing populations may collide in disasters of unprecedented size. As conditions worsen, variations in coastal morphology will magnify the effects in some areas, while largely insulating others. In this paper, we explore the implications for 84 developing countries and 577 of their cyclone-vulnerable coastal cities with populations greater than 100,000. Combining the most recent scientific and demographic information, we estimate the future impact of climate change on storm surges that will strike coastal populations, economies and ecosystems. We focus on the distribution of heightened impacts, because we believe that greater knowledge of their probable variation will be useful for local and national planners, as well as international donors. Our results suggest gross inequality in the heightened impact of future disasters, with the most severe effects limited to a small number of countries and a small cluster of large cities.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Economics
  • Author: Michael Clemens
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Large numbers of doctors, engineers, and other skilled workers from developing countries choose to move to other countries. Do their choices threaten development? The answer appears so obvious that their movement is most commonly known by the pejorative term “brain drain.” This paper reconsiders the question, starting from the most mainstream, explicit definitions of “development.” Under these definitions, it is only possible to advance development by regulating skilled workers' choices if that regulation greatly expands the substantive freedoms of others to meet their basic needs and live the lives they wish. Much existing evidence and some new evidence suggests that regulating skilled-worker mobility itself does little to address the underlying causes of skilled migrants' choices, generally brings few benefits to others, and often brings diverse unintended harm. The paper concludes with examples of effective ways that developing countries can build a skill base for development without regulating human movement. The mental shift required to take these policies seriously would be aided by dropping the sententious term “brain drain” in favor of the neutral, accurate, and concise term “skill flow.”
  • Topic: Development, Migration, Labor Issues, Brain Drain
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian, Raghuram G. Rajan
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We examine the effects of aid on the growth of manufacturing, using a methodology that exploits the variation within countries and across manufacturing sectors, and corrects for possible reverse causality. We find that aid inflows have systematic adverse effects on a country\'s competitiveness, as reflected in the lower relative growth rate of exportable industries. We provide some evidence suggesting that the channel for these effects is the real exchange rate appreciation caused by aid inflows. We conjecture that this may explain, in part, why it is hard to find robust evidence that foreign aid helps countries grow.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Washington
  • Author: Macartan Humphreys, James Fearon, Jeremy M. Weinstein
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Can brief, foreign-funded efforts to build local institutions have positive effects on local patterns of governance, cooperation, and well-being? Prior research suggests that such small-scale, externally driven interventions are unlikely to substantially alter patterns of social interaction in a community, and that the ability of a community to act collectively is the result of a slow and necessarily indigenous process. We address this question using a randomized field experiment to assess the effects of a community-driven reconstruction (CDR) project carried out by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in northern Liberia. The project attempted to build democratic, community-level institutions for making and implementing decisions about local public goods. We find powerful evidence that the program was successful in increasing social cohesion, some evidence that it reinforced democratic political attitudes and increased confidence in local decision-making procedures, but only weak evidence that material well-being was positively affected. There is essentially no evidence of adverse effects. *Jeremy Weinstein is on leave from the Center for Global Development.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Civil War, Development, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa, Liberia
  • Author: Benjamin Leo
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Four years ago, the G-7 pushed through an unprecedented initiative forcing the international financial institutions to cancel 100 percent of their outstanding debt claims on the world's poorest countries. Through the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI), these heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) stand to receive up to $60 billion in debt relief over time. Moreover, the World Bank, African Development Bank, and IMF shareholders approved a new debt sustainability framework to govern future lending decisions and prevent the need for yet another round of systemic debt relief. All parties emerged from these landmark agreements confident that the dragon of unsustainable debt finally had been slain. However, several unsettling trends raise serious questions about the finality of these actions. First, World Bank and AfDB lending disbursement volumes to these very same HIPC countries remain very high, and nearly the same as compared to pre-MDRI. Emergency IMF lending in response to the global economic crisis has compounded the situation. Second, IMF and World Bank growth projections for HIPCs remain overly rosy compared to actual and historical performance. Our new dataset of IMF growth projections suggests a structural optimism of at least one percentage point per year. Third, HIPCs continue to experience significant volatility in country performance measures that has a direct impact on their ability to carry debt sustainably. Taken together, these findings suggest that donor countries should re-examine the issue of debt sustainability in low-income countries and the system for determining the appropriate grant/loan mix. The upcoming IDA and AfDF replenishment negotiations present a timely opportunity to do so. Absent assertive and corrective action, the international community may be faced with the prospect of a HIPC IV agreement in the not too distant future.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: David Wheeler, Robin Kraft, Dan Hammer
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Rising concern about carbon emissions from deforestation has led donors to finance UN-REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries), a program that offers direct compensation for forest conservation. Sustainable operation of UN-REDD and other direct-compensation programs will require a transparent, credible, frequently updated system for monitoring deforestation. In this paper, we introduce FORMA (Forest Monitoring for Action), a prototype system based on remotely sensed data. We test its accuracy against the best available information on deforestation in Brazil and Indonesia. Our results indicate that publicly available remotely sensed data can support accurate quarterly identification of new deforestation at 1 km spatial resolution. More rapid updates at higher spatial resolution may also be possible. At current resolution, with efficient coding in publicly available software, FORMA should produce global updates on one desktop computer in a few hours. Maps of probable deforestation at 1 km resolution will be accessible with Google Earth and Google Maps, with an open facility for ground-truthing each pixel via photographs and text comments.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Climate Change, Development
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Brazil
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian, Simon Johnson, William Larson, Chris Papageorgiou
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper sheds light on two problems in the Penn World Table (PWT) GDP estimates. First, we show that these estimates vary substantially across different versions of the PWT despite being derived from very similar underlying data and using almost identical methodologies; that this variability is systematic; and that it is intrinsic to the methodology deployed by the PWT to estimate growth rates. Moreover, this variability matters for the cross-country growth literature. While growth studies that use low-frequency data remain robust to data revisions, studies that use annual data are less robust. Second, the PWT methodology leads to GDP estimates that are not valued at purchasing power parity (PPP) prices. This is surprising because the raison d'être of the PWT is to adjust national estimates of GDP by valuing output at common international (PPP) prices so that the resulting PPP-adjusted estimates of GDP are comparable across countries. We propose an approach to address these two problems of variability and valuation.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, International Affairs
  • 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