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  • Author: Nora Lustig
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper presents results on the impact of fiscal policy on inequality and poverty in sixteen Latin American countries around 2010. The countries that redistribute the most are Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica and Uruguay, and the least, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru. At higher social spending, greater redistribution is achieved, but countries with a similar level of social spending show different levels of redistribution which suggests that other factors such as the composition and targeting of the expenditures are involved in determining the redistributive effect beyond its size. Fiscal policy reduces extreme poverty in twelve countries. However, the incidence of poverty after taxes, subsidies and monetary transfers is higher than the pre-fisc poverty rate in Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, even when fiscal policy does reduce inequality. Expenditure on pre-school and primary education is equalizing and pro-poor in all countries. Spending on secondary education is equalizing in all countries and also pro-poor in some countries but not all. Expenditure on tertiary education is never pro-poor, but it is equalizing, with the exception of Guatemala, where it is regressive and unequalizing and in Venezuela, where its redistributive effect is zero. Health spending is always equalizing but it is pro-poor only in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Poverty, Capitalism, Income Inequality
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Nora Lustig, Margarita Beneke, José Andrés Oliva
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We conducted a fiscal impact study to estimate the effect of taxes, social spending, and subsidies on inequality and poverty in El Salvador, using the methodology of the Commitment to Equity project. Taxes are progressive, but given their volume, their impact is limited. Direct transfers are concentrated on poor households, but their budget is small so their effect is limited; a significant portion of the subsidies goes to households in the upper income deciles, so although their budget is greater, their impact is low. The component that has the greatest effect on inequality is spending on education and health. Therefore, the impact of fiscal policy is limited and low when compared with other countries with a similar level of per capita income. There is room for improvement using current resources.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Poverty, Income Inequality
  • Political Geography: El Salvador
  • Author: Peter Edward, Andy Sumner
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper makes new estimates of global poverty and inequality in 2012 using both ‘old’, 2005 and ‘new’, 2011 purchasing power parity (PPP) price data in order to assess systematically what difference PPP data makes to the estimates. The methodology for the 2011 PPP data is thought to be superior. However, contentions remain. We discuss the PPPs and justify the use of 2011 PPP data to estimate global poverty and inequality, at least for comparison purposes.
  • Topic: Poverty
  • Author: Peter Edward, Andy Sumner
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper considers the effectiveness and efficiency of global growth, as a route to poverty reduction, since 1990 and then demonstrates the redistributive challenges implicit in various poverty lines and scenarios: the significance being that this historical data can inform understanding and appreciation of what it would involve to end global poverty in the future. We find that a very modest redistribution of global growth could have ended poverty already at the lowest poverty lines. However, higher, but arguably more reasonable, poverty lines present radically different challenges to the current workings of national economic systems and to global (normative) obligations.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Humanitarian Aid, Poverty
  • Author: Nora Lustig
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper examines the redistributive impact of fiscal policy for Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru and South Africa using comparable fiscal incidence analysis with data from around 2010. The largest redistributive effect is in South Africa and the smallest in Indonesia. While fiscal policy always reduces inequality, this is not the case with poverty.
  • Topic: Economics, Poverty, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Africa, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall, Christian J. Meyer
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We argue that survey-based median household consumption expenditure (or income) per capita be incorporated into standard development indicators, as a simple, robust, and durable indicator of typical individual material well-being in a country. Using household survey data available for low- and middle-income countries from the World Bank's PovcalNet tool, we show that as a measure of income-related well-being, it is far superior to the commonly used GDP per capita as well as survey-based measures at the mean. We also argue that survey-based median measures are "distributionaware", i.e. when used as the denominator of various widely available indicators such as mean consumption expenditure per capita they provide a "good-enough" indicator of consumption (or income) inequality. Finally, as a post-2015 indicator of progress at the country-level in promoting shared development and reducing inequality, we propose that the rate of increase in median consumption per capita after taxes and transfers exceed the rate of increase in average consumption in the same period.
  • Topic: Development, Diplomacy, Poverty, World Bank
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: Oeindrila Dube, Omar Garcia-Ponce, Kevin Thom
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We examine how commodity price shocks experienced by rural producers affect the drug trade in Mexico. Our analysis exploits exogenous movements in the Mexican maize price stemming from weather conditions in U.S. maize-growing regions, as well as export flows of other major maize producers. Using data on over 2,200 municipios spanning 1990-2010, we show that lower prices differentially increased the cultivation of both marijuana and opium poppies in municipios more climatically suited to growing maize. This increase was accompanied by differentially lower rural wages, suggesting that households planted more drug crops in response to the decreased income generating potential of maize farming.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Poverty, War on Drugs, Narcotics Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Michael Clemens, Timothy N. Ogden
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: It is time to fundamentally reframe the research agenda on remittances, payments, and development. We describe many of the research questions that now dominate the literature and why they lead us to uninformative answers. We propose reasons why these questions dominate, the most important of which is that researchers tend to view remittances as states do (as windfall income) rather than as families do (as returns on investment). Migration is, among other things, a strategy for financial management in poor households: location is an asset, migration an investment. This shift of perspective leads to much more fruitful research questions that have been relatively neglected. We suggest 12 such questions.
  • Topic: Economics, Migration, Political Economy, Poverty, Labor Issues, Immigration
  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez, Maria Alejandra Amado
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes Latin America's Financial Inclusion Gap, the difference between the average financial inclusion for Latin America and the corresponding average for a set of comparator countries. At the country level, we assess four types of obstacles to financial inclusion: macroeconomic weaknesses, income inequality, institutional deficiencies and financial sector inefficiencies. A key finding of this paper is that although the four types of obstacles explain the absolute level of financial inclusion, institutional deficiencies and income inequality are the most important obstacles behind the Latin America's financial inclusion gap. From our analysis at the individual level, we find that there is a Latin America-specific effect of education and income. The results suggest that the effect of attaining secondary education on the probability of being financially included is significantly higher in Latin America than in its comparators. Furthermore, the difference in the probability of being financially included between the richest and the poorest individuals is significantly higher in Latin America than in comparator countries.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Human Rights, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Alex Cobham, Andy Sumner
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: There are normative or instrumental reasons why inequality may be said to matter (e.g. fairness and meritocracy). However, much global literature has taken an instrumentalist approach as to why high or rising inequality can hinder development. For example, Birdsall (2007) argues that income inequality in developing countries matters for at least three instrumental reasons: where markets are underdeveloped, inequality inhibits growth through economic mechanisms; where institutions of government are weak, inequality exacerbates the problem of creating and maintaining accountable government, increasing the probability of economic and social policies that inhibit growth and poverty reduction; and where social institutions are fragile, inequality further discourages the civic and social life that underpins the effective collective decision-making that is necessary to the functioning of healthy societies.
  • Topic: Economics, Poverty, Social Stratification, Labor Issues
  • Author: Michael Clemens, Gabriel Demombynes
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Millennium Villages Project is a high profile, multi-country development project that has aimed to serve as a model for ending rural poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. The project became the subject of controversy when the methodological basis of early claims of success was questioned. The lively ensuing debate offers lessons on three recent mini-revolutions that have swept the field of development economics: the rising standards of evidence for measuring impact, the “open data” movement, and the growing role of the blogosphere in research debates.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Poverty, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Dean Karlan, Jonathan Zinman, Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The poor can and do save, but often use formal or informal instruments that have high risk, high cost, and limited functionality. This could lead to undersaving compared to a world without market or behavioral frictions. Undersaving can have important welfare consequences: variable consumption, low resilience to shocks, and foregone profitable investments.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Poverty, Financial Crisis
  • Author: Mohammad Niaz Asadullah, Nazmul Chaudhury
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Using a primary school curricular standard basic mathematics competence test, this paper documents the low level of student achievement amongst 10-18 year old rural children in Bangladesh and tests the extent to which years spent in school increases learning. Our sample includes children currently enrolled in school as well as those out of school. About half of the children failed to pass the written competence test, a finding that also holds for those completing primary schooling. Even after holding constant a wide range of factors such as household income, parental characteristics, current enrollment status, and a direct measure of child ability, there remains a statistically significant correlation between schooling attained and basic mathematics competence above and beyond primary school completion. This pattern is more pronounced for girls who have lower competence compared to boys despite higher grade completion.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Islam, Poverty
  • Political Geography: South Asia
  • Author: Laura E. Seay
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Although its provisions have yet to be implemented, section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is already having a profound effect on the Congolese mining sector. Nicknamed “Obama's Law” by the Congolese, section 1502 has created a de facto ban on Congolese mineral exports, put anywhere from tens of thousands up to 2 million Congolese miners out of work in the eastern Congo, and, despite ending most of the trade in Congolese conflict minerals, done little to improve the security situation or the daily lives of most Congolese. In this report, Laura Seay traces the development of section 1502 with respect to the pursuit of a conflict minerals-based strategy by U.S. advocates, examines the effects of the legislation, and recommends new courses of action to move forward in a way that both promotes accountability and transparency and allows Congolese artisanal miners to earn a living.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Poverty, Natural Resources, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Author: Lant Pritchett, Amanda Beatty
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Learning profiles that track changes in student skills per year of schooling often find shockingly low learning gains. Using data from three recent studies in South Asia and Africa, we show that a majority of students spend years of instruction with no progress on basics. We argue shallow learning profiles are in part the result of curricular paces moving much faster than the pace of learning. To demonstrate the consequences of a gap between the curriculum and student mastery, we construct a simple, formal model, which portrays learning as the result of a match between student skill and instructional levels, rather than the standard (if implicit) assumption that all children learn the same from the same instruction. A simulation shows that two countries with exactly the same potential learning could have massively divergent learning outcomes, just because of a gap between curricular and actual pace—and the country which goes faster has much lower cumulative learning. We also show that our simple simulation model of curricular gaps can replicate existing experimental findings, many of which are otherwise puzzling. Paradoxically, learning could go faster if curricula and teachers were to slow down.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Asia
  • Author: Paul Wilson, Ya'ir Aizenman
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Although there have been studies of the cost-effectiveness of particular malaria interventions, there has been less analysis of broader aspects of value for money in malaria programming. In this paper, Paul Wilson and Ya'ir Aizenman examine opportunities for value for money in malaria control, extensively analyzing the effectiveness of interventions and current trends in spending. The authors conclude that on the whole resources for malaria control are well spent, but also note some areas where meaningful efficiencies might be possible, including (i) improving procurement procedures for bed nets, (ii) developing efficient ways to replace bed nets as they wear out, (iii) reducing overlap of spraying and bed net programs, (iv) expanding the use of rapid diagnostics, and (v) scaling up intermittent presumptive treatment for pregnant women and infants. In some ways, improving value requires increasing the quality of services—for example, while changing insecticides might increase the cost of spraying campaigns in the short run, it could save much larger amounts in the long run by forestalling resistance. In addition to these recommendations, this paper offers a framework for analyzing value for money in malaria and considers a comprehensive set of factors, from spatial heterogeneity in malaria transmission to mosquito resistance to insecticides. If better results can be achieved at lower cost—and often they can be—donors and recipients alike should better utilize such opportunities. This paper offers not only recommendations to achieve better results in malaria, but also a platform for evaluation of global health interventions that will be useful in future analyses.
  • Topic: Development, International Cooperation, Poverty, Health Care Policy
  • Author: Nigel Purvis, Abigail Jones
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Worldwide, about 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity (one in five people), while unreliable electricity networks serve another 1 billion people. Roughly 2.7 billion—about 40 percent of the global population—lack access to clean cooking fuels. Instead, dirty, sometimes scarce and expensive fuels such as kerosene, candles, wood, animal waste, and crop residues power the lives of the energy poor, who pay disproportionately high costs and receive very poor quality in return. More than 95 percent of the energy poor are either in sub-Saharan Africa or developing Asia, while 84 percent are in rural areas—the same regions that are the most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Economics, Energy Policy, Environment, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Asia
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall, Homi Kharas, Rita Perakis
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This report presents the results of the second edition of the Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA) assessment, with a focus on the changes that have occurred in donor performance since the first edition. These results were released in summary form in November, 2011, just before the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics, Humanitarian Aid, Poverty, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: South Korea
  • 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: Todd Moss, Stephanie Majerowicz
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Ghana's largest and most important creditor for the past three decades has been the International Development Association (IDA), the soft loan window of the World Bank. That will soon come to an end. The combination of Ghana's rapid economic growth and the recent GDP rebasing exercise means that Ghana suddenly finds itself above the income limit for IDA eligibility. Formal graduation is imminent and comes with significant implications for access to concessional finance, debt, and relations with other creditors. This paper considers the specific questions related to Ghana's relationship with the World Bank, as well as the broader questions about the country's new middle-income status.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Poverty, Foreign Aid, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Africa