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  • Author: David Deming
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) jobs are a key contributor to economic growth and national competitiveness. Yet STEM workers are perceived to be in short supply. This paper shows that the “STEM shortage” phenomenon is explained by technological change, which introduces new job skills and makes old ones obsolete. We find that the initially high economic return to applied STEM degrees declines by more than 50 percent in the first decade of working life. This coincides with a rapid exit of college graduates from STEM occupations. Using detailed job vacancy data, we show that STEM jobs change especially quickly over time, leading to flatter age-earnings profiles as the skills of older cohorts became obsolete. Our findings highlight the importance of technology-specific skills in explaining life-cycle returns to education, and show that STEM jobs are the leading edge of technology diffusion in the labor market.
  • Topic: International Organization, International Political Economy, Science and Technology, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Maciej Kotowski
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This paper investigates the formation of production and trading networks in an economy with general interdependencies and complex property rights. The right to exclude,a core tenet of property, grants asset owners a form of monopoly power that influences granular economic interactions. Equilibrium networks reflect the distribution of these ownership claims. Inefficient production networks may endure in equilibrium as firms multi-source to mitigate hold-up risk. Short supply chains also reduce this risk, but may preclude the production of complex goods. A generalized Top Trading Cycles algorithm, applicable to a production economy, identifies equilibrium outcomes in the model. Such outcomes can be decentralized via a price system.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, International Affairs, Intellectual Property/Copyright, National & provincial initiatives
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: John Gerard Ruggie
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: On August 19, 2019, the U.S. Business Roundtable (BR), comprising the CEOs of more than 200 of America’s largest corporations, issued a new mission statement on “the purpose of a corporation” (BR, 2019a). The press release noted that each periodic update on principles of corporate governance since 1997 had endorsed the principle of maximizing shareholder value. In contrast, the new statement commits signatory CEOs “to lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders” (BR, 2019b). “[Milton] Friedman must be turning in his grave,” a Fortune magazine article declared (Murray, 2019)
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Richard Zeckhauser
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This paper argues that historical analysis, necessarily written with hindsight, often underestimates the uncertainties of the past. We call this tendency explanation bias. This bias leads individuals – including professional historians – to imply greater certainty in causal analyses than the evidence justifies. Their analyses will treat what is plausible to be probable. We offer a few intuitions about why explanation bias exists, its relation to other well-established psychological biases, what it leads to, and how it might be combatted. Appreciating the depth of uncertainty and ignorance in our world is critical for accurately understanding, interpreting, and drawing from the past to illuminate the present and the near future
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Will Dobbie
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: We study the drivers of financial distress using a large-scale field experiment that offered randomly selected borrowers a combination of (i) immediate payment reductions to target short- run liquidity constraints and (ii) delayed interest write-downs to target long-run debt constraints. We identify the separate e?ects of the payment reductions and interest write-downs using both the experiment and cross-sectional variation in treatment intensity. We find that the interest write-downs significantly improved both financial and labor market outcomes, despite not taking effect for three to five years. In sharp contrast, there were no positive e?ects of the more immediate payment reductions. These results run counter to the widespread view that financial distress is largely the result of short-run constraints.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Will Dobbie
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: We estimate the causal effects of parental incarceration on children’s short- and long-run outcomes using administrative data from Sweden. Our empirical strategy exploits exogenous variation in parental incarceration from the random assignment of criminal defendants to judges with different incarceration tendencies. We find that the incarceration of a parent in childhood leads to a significant increase in teen crime and significant decreases in educational attainment and adult employment. The effects are concentrated among children from the most disadvantaged families, where criminal convictions increase by 10 percentage points, high school graduation decreases by 25 percentage points, and employment at age 25 decreases by 29 percentage points. In contrast, there are no detectable effects among children from more advantaged families. These results suggest that the incarceration of parents with young children may significantly increase the intergenerational persistence of poverty and criminal behavior, even in affluent countries with extensive social safety nets.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs, Prisons/Penal Systems
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Will Dobbie
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This paper tests for bias in consumer lending using administrative data from a high-cost lender in the United Kingdom. We motivate our analysis using a new principal-agent model of bias, which predicts that profits should be higher for the most illiquid loan applicants at the margin if loan examiners are biased. We identify the profitability of marginal applicants using the quasi-random assignment of loan examiners. Consistent with our model, we find significant bias against immigrant and older applicants when using the firm’s preferred measure of long-run profits, but not when using the short-run measure used to evaluate examiner performance. Keywords: Discrimination, Consumer Credit
  • Topic: Debt, International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Todd Rogers
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Many states mandate districts or schools notify parents when students have missed multiple unexcused days of school. We report a randomized experiment (N = 131,312) evaluating the impact of sending parents truancy notifications modified to target behavioral barriers that can hinder effective parental engagement. Modified truancy notifications that used simplified language, emphasized parental efficacy, and highlighted the negative incremental effects of missing school reduced absences by 0.07 days compared to the standard, legalistic, and punitively-worded notification—an estimated 40% improvement. This work illustrates how behavioral insights and randomized experiments can be used to improve administrative communications in education.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ricardo Hausmann, Patricio Goldstein, Ana Grisanti, Tim O'Brien, Jorge Tapia, Miguel Ajgel Santos
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Jordan faces a number of pressing economic challenges: low growth, high unemployment, rising debt levels, and continued vulnerability to regional shocks. After a decade of fast economic growth, the economy decelerated with the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09. From then onwards, various external shocks have thrown its economy out of balance and prolonged the slowdown for over a decade now. Conflicts in neighboring countries have led to reduced demand from key export markets and cut off important trade routes. Foreign direct investment, which averaged 12.7% of gross domestic product (GDP) between 2003-2009, fell to 5.1% of GDP over the 2010-2017. Regional conflicts have interrupted the supply of gas from Egypt – forcing Jordan to import oil at a time of record prices, had a negative impact on tourism, and also provoked a massive influx of migrants and refugees. Failure to cope with 50.4% population growth between led to nine consecutive years (2008-2017) of negative growth rates in GDP per capita, resulting in a cumulative loss of 14.0% over the past decade (2009-2018). Debt to GDP ratios, which were at 55% by the end of 2009, have skyrocketed to 94%. Over the previous five years Jordan has undertaken a significant process of fiscal consolidation. The resulting reduction in fiscal impulse is among the largest registered in the aftermath of the Financial Crises, third only to Greece and Jamaica, and above Portugal and Spain. Higher taxes, lower subsidies, and sharp reductions in public investment have in turn furthered the recession. Within a context of lower aggregate demand, more consolidation is needed to bring debt-to-GDP ratios back to normal. The only way to break that vicious cycle and restart inclusive growth is by leveraging on foreign markets, developing new exports and attracting investments aimed at increasing competitiveness and strengthening the external sector. The theory of economic complexity provides a solid base to identify opportunities with high potential for export diversification. It allows to identify the existing set of knowhow, skills and capacities as signaled by the products and services that Jordan is able to make, and to define existing and latent areas of comparative advantage that can be developed by redeploying them. Service sectors have been growing in importance within the Jordanian economy and will surely play an important role in export diversification. In order to account for that, we have developed an adjusted framework that allows to identify the most attractive export sectors including services. Based on that adjusted framework, this report identifies export themes with a high potential to drive growth in Jordan while supporting increasing wage levels and delivering positive spillovers to the non-tradable economy. The general goal is to provide a roadmap with key elements of a strategy for Jordan to return to a high economic growth path that is consistent with its emerging comparative advantages.
  • Topic: Government, International Trade and Finance, Finance, Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian, Josh Felman
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: We examine the pattern of growth in the 2010s. Standard explanations cannot account for the long slowdown, followed by a sharp collapse. Our explanation stresses both structural and cyclical factors, with finance as the distinctive, common element. In the immediate aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), two key drivers of growth decelerated. Export growth slowed sharply as world trade stagnated, while investment fell victim to a homegrown Balance Sheet crisis, which came in two waves. The first wave—the Twin Balance Sheet crisis, encompassing banks and infrastructure companies—arrived when the infrastructure projects started during India’s investment boom of the mid-2000s began to go sour. The economy nonetheless continued to grow, despite temporary, adverse demonetization and GST shocks, propelled first by income gains from the large fall in international oil prices, then by government spending and a non-bank financial company (NBFC)-led credit boom. This credit boom financed unsustainable real estate inventory accumulation, inflating a bubble that finally burst in 2019. Consequently, consumption too has now sputtered, causing growth to collapse. As a result, India is now facing a Four Balance Sheet challenge—the original two sectors, plus NBFCs and real estate companies—and is trapped in an adverse interest-growth dynamic, in which risk aversion is leading to high interest rates, depressing growth, and generating more risk aversion. Standard remedies are unavailable: monetary policy is stymied by a broken transmission mechanism; large fiscal stimulus will only push up already-high interest rates, worsening the growth dynamic. The traditional structural reform agenda—land and labour market measures—are important for the medium run but will not address the current problems. Addressing the Four Balance Sheet problem decisively will be critical to durably reviving growth. Raising agricultural productivity is also high priority. And even before that, a Data Big Bang is needed to restore trust and enable better policy design.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Economy, Global Political Economy, Economic growth, Global Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Jie Bai, Jiahua Liu
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: It is well known that various forms of non-tariff trade barriers exist within a country. Empirically, it is difficult to measure these barriers as they can take many forms. We take advantage of a nationwide VAT rebate policy reform in China as a natural experiment to identify the existence of these intranational barriers due to local protectionism and study the impact on exports and exporting firms. As a result of shifting tax rebate burden, the reform leads to a greater incentive of the provincial governments to block the domestic flow of non-local goods to local export intermediaries. We develop an open-economy heterogenous firm model that incorporates multiple domestic regions and multiple exporting technologies, including the intermediary sector. Consistent with the model’s predictions, we find that rising local protectionism leads to a reduction in interprovincial trade, more “inward-looking” sourcing behavior of local intermediaries, and a reduction in manufacturing exports. Analysis using micro firm-level data further shows that private companies with greater baseline reliance on export intermediaries are more adversely affected.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Reform, Tariffs
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Jie Bai, Panle Barwick, Shengmao Cao, Shanjun Li
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Are quid pro quo (technology for market access) policies effective in facilitating knowledge spillover to developing countries? We study this question in the context of the Chinese automobile industry where foreign firms are required to set up joint ventures with domestic firms in return for market access. Using a unique dataset of detailed quality measures along multiple dimensions of vehicle performance, we document empirical patterns consistent with knowledge spillovers through both ownership affiliation and geographical proximity: joint ventures and Chinese domestic firms with ownership or location linkage tend to specialize in similar quality dimensions. The identification primarily relies on within-product variation across quality dimensions and the results are robust to a variety of specifications. The pattern is not driven by endogenous joint-venture network formation, overlapping customer base, or learning by doing considerations. Leveraging additional micro datasets on part suppliers and worker flow, we document that supplier network and labor mobility are important channels in mediating knowledge spillovers. However, these channels are not tied to ownership affiliations. Finally, we calibrate a simple learning model and conduct policy counterfactuals to examine the role of quid pro quo. Our findings show that ownership affiliation facilitates learning but quality improvement is primarily driven by the other mechanisms.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Science and Technology, Developing World
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Anders Jensen
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This paper shows how the increase in information trails through the long-run transition from self-employment to employee-jobs explains the rise of the modern income tax system. I construct a new database which covers 100 household surveys across countries at different income levels and 140 years of historical data within the US (1870-2010). Using these data, I first establish four new stylized facts: 1) within country, the share of employees increases over the income distribution, and increases at all levels of income as a country develops; 2) the income tax exemption threshold moves down the income distribution as a country develops, tracking employee growth; 3) the employee share above the exemption threshold is maximized and remains constantly high; 4) decreases in the exemption threshold are strongly associated with increases in tax collection. These findings are consistent with a model where a high employee share is a necessary condition for effective taxation and where the rise in income covered by information trails through increases in employee share drives expansion of the income tax base. To provide a causal estimate of employee share on income tax systems, I study a state-led US development program implemented in the 1950s-60s which increased the level of employee share. The identification strategy exploits within-state changes in court-litigation status which generate quasi-experimental variation in the effective implementation date of the program. I find that the exogenous increase in employee share is associated with an expansion of the state income tax base and an increase in state income tax revenue.
  • Topic: Political Economy, Finance, Economy, International Development, Tax Systems
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Alice Evans
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This paper re-examines why global collective action problems persist, and how to overcome them. Drawing on 140 interviews with campaigners, politicians, and businesses in 10 European countries, it suggests that many activists are stuck in a despondency trap. Never seeing radical reform, they lower their ambitions, and invest in more feasible but sub-optimal alternatives. This creates a negative feedback loop, in which the dearth of radical reform becomes self-fulfilling. But if reformists see advances at home and abroad, they may become more optimistic about collective mobilisation and break out of their despondency trap. This is shown by tracing the drivers of ground-breaking legislation. From 2018, large French firms must mitigate risks of environmental and human rights abuses in their global supply chains, or else be liable. This bill – the world’s first of its kind – was vociferously contested by businesses. But French campaigners and politicians persisted for four years, because they saw reasons for optimism. These include growing international support; public outcry; the French political culture (state intervention, and distrust of multinationals); together with a Centre-Left Government. Optimism galvanised relentless mobilisation. Legislative success in France then delivered a positive shock to activists across Europe, who were emboldened to launch similar campaigns and escape their despondency trap.
  • Topic: Political Activism, Reform, Business , State, Multinational Corporations, Legislation, Accountability
  • Political Geography: Europe, France
  • Author: Jie Bai, Ludovica Gazze, Yukun Wang
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Collective reputation implies an important externality. Among firms trading internationally, quality shocks about one firm’s products could affect the demand of other firms from the same origin country. We study this issue in the context of a large-scale scandal that affected the Chinese dairy industry in 2008. Leveraging rich firm-product level administrative data and official quality inspection reports, we find that the export revenue of contaminated firms dropped by 84% after the scandal, relative to the national industrial trend, and the spillover effect on non-contaminated firms is measured at 64% of the direct effect. Notably, firms deemed innocent by government inspections did not fare any better than noninspected firms. These findings highlight the importance of collective reputation in international trade and the challenges governments might face in signaling quality and restoring trust. Finally, we investigate potential mechanisms that could mediate the strength of the reputation spillover. We find that the spillover effects are smaller in destinations where people have better information about parties involved in the scandal. New firms are more vulnerable to the collective reputation damage than established firms. Supply chain structure matters especially in settings where firms are less vertically integrated and exhibit fragmented upstream-downstream relationships.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Markets, Business , Global Political Economy, Accountability
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Semiray Kasoolu, Ricardo Hausmann, Tim O'Brien, Miguel Ajgel Santos
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Women in Jordan are excluded from labor market opportunities at among the highest rates in the world. Previous efforts to explain this outcome have focused on specific, isolated aspects of the problem and have not exploited available datasets to test across causal explanations. We develop a comprehensive framework to analyze the drivers of low female employment rates in Jordan and systematically test their validity, using micro-level data from Employment and Unemployment Surveys (2008-2018) and the Jordanian Labor Market Panel Survey (2010-2016). We find that the nature of low female inclusion in Jordan’s labor market varies significantly with educational attainment, and identify evidence for different factors affecting different educational groups. Among women with high school education or less, we observe extremely low participation levels and find the strongest evidence for this phenomenon tracing to traditional social norms and poor public transportation. On the higher end of the education spectrum – university graduates and above – we find that the problem is not one of participation, but rather of unemployment, which we attribute to a small and undiversified private sector that is unable to accommodate women’s needs for work and work-family balance.
  • Topic: Education, Gender Issues, Political Economy, Labor Issues, Women, Inequality
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: Abhijit Banerjee, Amy Finkelstein, Rema Hanna, Benjamin A. Olken, Arianna Ornaghi, Sudarno Sumarto
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: To assess ways to achieve widespread health insurance coverage with financial solvency in developing countries, we designed a randomized experiment involving almost 6,000 households in Indonesia who are subject to a nationally mandated government health insurance program. We assessed several interventions that simple theory and prior evidence suggest could increase coverage and reduce adverse selection: substantial temporary price subsidies (which had to be activated within a limited time window and lasted for only a year), assisted registration, and information. Both temporary subsidies and assisted registration increased initial enrollment. Temporary subsidies attracted lower-cost enrollees, in part by eliminating the practice observed in the no subsidy group of strategically timing coverage for a few months during health emergencies. As a result, while subsidies were in effect, they increased coverage more than eightfold, at no higher unit cost; even after the subsidies ended, coverage remained twice as high, again at no higher unit cost. However, the most intensive (and effective) intervention – assisted registration and a full one-year subsidy – resulted in only a 30 percent initial enrollment rate, underscoring the challenges to achieving widespread coverage.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Health Care Policy, Economy
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: M. Chatib Basri, Mayara Felix, Rema Hanna, Benjamin A. Olken
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Developing countries collect a far lower share of GDP in taxes than richer countries. This paper asks whether changes in tax administration and tax rates can nevertheless raise substantial additional revenue – and if so, which approach is most effective. We study corporate taxation in Indonesia, where the government implemented two reforms that differentially affected firms. First, we show that increasing tax administration intensity by moving the top firms in each region into “Medium-Sized Taxpayer Offices,” with much higher staff-to-taxpayer ratios, more than doubled tax revenue from affected firms over six years, with increasing impacts over time. Second, using non-linear changes to the corporate income tax schedule, we estimate an elasticity of taxable income of 0.59, which implies that the revenue-maximizing rate is almost double the current rate. The increased revenue from improvements in tax administration is equivalent to raising the marginal corporate tax rate on affected firms by about 23 percentage points. We suggest one reason improved tax administration was so effective was that it flattened the relationship between firm size and enforcement, removing the additional “enforcement tax” on large firms. On net, our results suggest that improving tax administration can have significant returns for developing country governments.
  • Topic: Governance, Developing World, Reform, Business , Tax Systems
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Timothy Besley, Anders Jensen, Torsten Persson
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This paper studies individual and social motives in tax evasion. We build a simple dynamic model that incorporates these motives and their interaction. The social motives underpin the role of norms and is the source of the dynamics that we study. Our empirical analysis exploits the adoption in 1990 of a poll tax to fund local government in the UK, which led to widespread evasion. The evidence is consistent with the model’s main predictions on the dynamics of evasion.
  • Topic: Political Economy, Economy, Financial Crimes, Tax Systems
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Mark H. Moore
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is one of a series of working papers from “RISE"—the large-scale education systems research programme supported by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Governance, Developing World
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Dani Rodrik
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: In a world economy that is highly integrated, most policies produce effects across the border. This is often believed to be an argument for greater global governance, but the logic requires scrutiny. There remains strong revealed demand for policy and institutional diversity among nations, rooted in differences in historical, cultural, or development trajectories. The canonical case for global governance is based on two set of circumstances. The first occurs when there is global public good (GPG) and the second under “beggar-thy-neighbor” (BTN) policies. However, the world economy is not a global commons, and virtually no economic policy has the nature of a global public good (or bad). And while there are some important BTN policies, much of our current discussions deal with policies that are not true BTNs. The policy failures that exist arise not from weaknesses of global governance, but from distortions of domestic governance. As a general rule, these domestic failures cannot be fixed through international agreements or multilateral cooperation. The paper closes by discussing an alternative model of global governance called “democracy-enhancing global governance.”
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Governance, Global Political Economy, Trade Wars
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, Global Markets
  • Author: Katherine Baicker, Theodore Svoronos
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Given the complex relationships between patients’ demographics, underlying health needs, and outcomes, establishing the causal effects of health policy and delivery interventions on health outcomes is often empirically challenging. The single interrupted time series (SITS) design has become a popular evaluation method in contexts where a randomized controlled trial is not feasible. In this paper, we formalize the structure and assumptions underlying the single ITS design and show that it is significantly more vulnerable to confounding than is often acknowledged and, as a result, can produce misleading results. We illustrate this empirically using the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, showing that an evaluation using a single interrupted time series design instead of the randomized controlled trial would have produced large and statistically significant results of the wrong sign. We discuss the pitfalls of the SITS design, and suggest circumstances in which it is and is not likely to be reliable.
  • Topic: Health, Governance, Health Care Policy
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Eduardo Levy Yeyati, Martin Montane, Luca Sartorio
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The past 5 years have witnessed a flurry of RCT evaluations that shed new light on the impact and cost effectiveness of Active Labor Market Policies (ALMPs) aiming to improve workers´ access to new jobs and better wages. We report the first systematic review of 102 RCT interventions comprising a total of 652 estimated impacts. We find that (i) a third of these estimates are positive and statistically significant (PPS) at conventional levels; (ii) programs are more likely to yield positive results when GDP growth is higher and unemployment lower; (iii) programs aimed at building human capital, such as vocational training, independent worker assistance and wage subsidies, show significant positive impact, and (iv) program length, monetary incentives, individualized follow up and activity targeting are all key features in determining the effectiveness of the interventions.
  • Topic: Vocational Training, Labor Policies, Wage Subsidies, Randomized Controlled Trials
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: My recent research paper “India's GDP Mis-estimation: Likelihood, Magnitudes, Mechanisms, and Implications,” (hereafter “GDP paper”) and the associated op-ed in the Indian Express on June 11, 2019 have generated considerable debate. This is encouraging because serious argument and counter-argument are the basis for good policy-making. Since the issue itself is of great importance, the counter-arguments to my analysis warrant a considered response. That is the aim of this note, which is a complement to the original paper, addressing both the larger issues and some of the specific points that have been raised. The note is structured as follows. Section II describes my engagement with India’s GDP estimation when I was Chief Economic Adviser. Section III elaborates on the framework/approach underlying the GDP paper. Section IV makes explicit the key puzzle surrounding India’s growth estimates, and addresses the possible explanations for it. Section V explores the puzzle in greater detail. Section VI provides additional cross-country evidence on growth and price deflators, which support the findings of the original paper, namely that growth during 2011-16 was likely overestimated by a significant margin. Section VII addresses two broad objections to the main findings. Section VIII discusses some of the methodological critiques of the paper. Section IX offers some thoughts on the way forward.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, International Development, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Daron Acemoglu, Ali Cheema, Asim Ijaz Khwaja, James A. Robinson
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Lack of trust in state institutions, often due to poor service provision, is a pervasive problem in many developing countries. It may also be one of the reasons citizens turn to non-state actors for services. This paper investigates whether information about improved public services can help build trust in state institutions and move people away from non-state actors. We focus on dispute resolution in rural Pakistan. We find that (truthful) information about reduced delays in state courts leads to citizens reporting higher likelihood of using them and to greater allocations to the state in two high-stakes lab-in-the-field games designed to measure belief in the effectiveness of state courts and willingness to contribute resources for others to access them. More interestingly, we find indirect negative effects on non-state actors in the same high-stakes settings. We show that the positive direct and negative indirect effects are both mediated by changes in beliefs about the effectiveness of these actors. Our preferred interpretation explains these behaviors as a response to improved beliefs about state actors which then motivate individuals to interact less with non-state actors and as a result downgrade their beliefs about them. We provide additional checks bolstering this interpretation and alleviating concerns about potential social experimenter effects or mechanical contrasts between the two actors. These results indicate that, despite distrust of the state in Pakistan, credible new information can change beliefs and behavior.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Non State Actors, Political and institutional effectiveness, State, Legitimacy
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Author: Alice Evans
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Support for gender equality has risen, globally. Analyses of this trend focus on individual and/or country-level characteristics. But this overlooks sub-national variation. Citydwellers are more likely to support gender equality in education, employment, leadership, and leisure. Why is this? This paper investigates the causes of rural-urban differences through comparative, qualitative research. It centres on Cambodia, where the growth of rural garment factories enables us to test theories that female employment fosters support for gender equality: potentially closing rural-urban differences; or whether other important aspects of city-living accelerate support for gender equality. Drawing on this rural and urban fieldwork, the paper suggests why social change is faster in Cambodian cities. First, cities raise the opportunity costs of gender divisions of labour – given higher living costs and more economic opportunities for women. Second, cities increase exposure to alternatives. People living in more interconnected, heterogeneous, densely populated areas are more exposed to women demonstrating their equal competence in socially valued, masculine domains. Third, they have more avenues to collectively contest established practices. Association and exposure reinforce growing flexibility in gender divisions of labour. By investigating the causes of subnational variation, this paper advances a new theory of growing support for gender equality.
  • Topic: Economics, Gender Issues, Urbanization, Women, Inequality
  • Political Geography: Cambodia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Michael Woolcock
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Many development agencies and governments now seek to engage directly with local communities, whether as a means to the realization of more familiar goals (infrastructure, healthcare, education) or as an end in itself (promoting greater inclusion, participation, well-being). These same agencies and governments, however, are also under increasing pressure to formally demonstrate that their actions ‘work’ and achieve their goals within relatively short timeframes – expectations which are, for the most part, necessary and desirable. But adequately assessing ‘community-driven’ approaches to development requires the deployment of theory and methods that accommodate their distinctive characteristics: building bridges is a qualitatively different task to building the rule of law and empowering minorities. Moreover, the ‘lessons’ inferred from average treatment effects derived from even the most rigorous assessments of community-driven interventions are likely to translate poorly to different contexts and scales of operation. Some guidance for anticipating and managing these conundrums are provided.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Infrastructure, International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: India changed its data sources and methodology for estimating real gross domestic product (GDP) for the period since 2011-12. This paper shows that this change has led to a significant overestimation of growth. Official estimates place annual average GDP growth between 2011-12 and 2016-17 at about 7 percent. We estimate that actual growth may have been about 4.5 percent with a 95 percent confidence interval of 3.5 - 5.5 percent. The evidence, based on disaggregated data from India and cross-sectional/panel regressions, is robust. Lending further credence to the evidence, part of the overestimation can be related to a key methodological change, which affected the measurement of the formal manufacturing sector. These findings alter our understanding of India’s growth performance after the Global Financial Crisis, from spectacular to solid. Two important policy implications follow: the entire national income accounts estimation should be revisited, harnessing new opportunities created by the Goods and Services Tax to significantly improve it; and restoring growth should be the urgent priority for the new government.
  • Topic: GDP, Global Political Economy, Economic growth, Global Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Eduardo Levy Yeyati, Eduardo Gómez
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Recent studies that have emphasized the costs of accumulating reserves for self-insurance purposes have overlooked two potentially important side-effects. First, the impact of the resulting lower spreads on the service costs of the stock of sovereign debt, which could substantially reduce the marginal cost of holding reserves. Second, when reserve accumulation reflects countercyclical LAW central bank interventions, the actual cost of reserves should be measured as the sum of valuation effects due to exchange rate changes and the local-to-foreign currency exchange rate differential (the inverse of a carry trade profit and loss total return flow), which yields a cost that is typically smaller than the one arising from traditional estimates based on the sovereign credit risk spreads. We document those effects empirically to illustrate that the cost of holding reserves may have been considerably smaller than usually assumed in both the academic literature and the policy debate.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis, Exchange Rate Policy, International Reserves, Capital Flows
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Jean Arkedis, Jessica Creighton, Archon Fung, Stephen Kosack, Dan Levy, Courtney Tolmie
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: We assess the impact of a transparency and accountability program designed to improve maternal and newborn health (MNH) outcomes in Indonesia and Tanzania. Co-designed with local partner organizations to be community-led and non-prescriptive, the program sought to encourage community participation to address local barriers in access to high quality care for pregnant women and infants. We evaluate the impact of this program through randomized controlled trials (RCTs), involving 100 treatment and 100 control communities in each country. We find that on average, this program did not have a statistically significant impact on the use or content of maternal and newborn health services, nor the sense of civic efficacy or civic participation among recent mothers in the communities who were offered it. These findings hold in both countries and in a set of prespecified subgroups. To identify reasons for the lack of impacts, we use a mixed-method approach combining interviews, observations, surveys, focus groups, and ethnographic studies that together provide an in-depth assessment of the complex causal paths linking participation in the program to improvements in MNH outcomes. Although participation in program meetings was substantial and sustained in most communities, and most attempted at least some of what they had planned, only a minority achieved tangible improvements and fewer still saw more than one such success. Our assessment is that the main explanation for the lack of impact is that few communities were able to traverse the complex causal paths from planning actions to accomplishing tangible improvements in their access to quality health care.
  • Topic: Health, Health Care Policy, Children, Randomized Controlled Trials
  • Political Geography: Africa, Indonesia, Tanzania, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Nathan Converse, Eduardo Levy Yeyati, Tomas Williams
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Since the early 2000s exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have grown to become an important in- vestment vehicle worldwide. In this paper, we study how their growth affects the sensitivity of international capital flows to the global financial cycle. We combine comprehensive fund- level data on investor flows with a novel identification strategy that controls for unobservable time-varying economic conditions at the investment destination. For dedicated emerging mar- ket funds, we find that the sensitivity of investor flows to global financial conditions for equity (bond) ETFs is 2.5 (2.25) times higher than for equity (bond) mutual funds. In turn, we show that in countries where ETFs hold a larger share of financial assets, total cross-border equity flows and prices are significantly more sensitive to global financial conditions. We conclude that the growing role of ETFs as a channel for international capital flows amplifies the global financial cycle in emerging markets.
  • Topic: Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Global Political Economy, Capital Flows, Mutual Funds
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, Global Markets
  • Author: Eduardo Fernández-Arias, Ricardo Hausmann, Ugo Panizza
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The conventional paradigm about development banks is that these institutions exist to target well-identified market failures. However, market failures are not directly observable and can only be ascertained with a suitable learning process. Hence, the question is how do the policymakers know what activities should be promoted, how do they learn about the obstacles to the creation of new activities? Rather than assuming that the government has arrived at the right list of market failures and uses development banks to close some well-identified market gaps, we suggest that development banks can be in charge of identifying these market failures through their loan-screening and lending activities to guide their operations and provide critical inputs for the design of productive development policies. In fact, they can also identify government failures that stand in the way of development and call for needed public inputs. This intelligence role of development banks is similar to the role that modern theories of financial intermediation assign to banks as institutions with a comparative advantage in producing and processing information. However, while private banks focus on information on private returns, development banks would potentially produce and organize information about social returns.
  • Topic: Development, Industrial Policy, Markets, Banks
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, Global Markets
  • Author: Alice Evans
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This paper shows that countries may reduce labour repression if they perceive this as conducive to export growth. This paper traces what happened before, in the presence of, and then following the withdrawal of international economic incentives for pro-labour reforms in Vietnam and Bangladesh. The Government of Vietnam announced it would allow independent trade unions, in order to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and increase market access. Similarly, the Government of Bangladesh rescinded restrictions on unions, following global condemnation of Rana Plaza and fear of buyers leaving en masse. Both governments reduced labour repression to promote export growth. With high-level authorisation, Vietnamese and Bangladeshi activists and reformists became less fearful, and mobilised for substantive change. However, these economic incentives were short-lived: after Trump’s election, the USA withdrew from TPP; buyers continued to source from Bangladesh, and squeezed prices (without requiring labour reforms). Both governments then amped up labour repression - notwithstanding private regulation, economic upgrading, industry growth, and mass strikes.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Reform, Economic growth, Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, South Asia, Vietnam
  • Author: Michael Woolcock
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Evaluations of development projects are conducted to assess their net effectiveness and, by extension, to guide decisions regarding the merits of scaling-up successful projects and/or replicating them elsewhere. The key characteristics of ‘complex’ interventions – numerous face- to-face interactions, high discretion, imposed obligations, pervasive unknowns – rarely fit neatly into standard evaluation protocols, requiring the deployment of a wider array of research methods, tools and theory. The careful use of such ‘mixed methods’ approaches is especially important for discerning the conditions under which ‘successful’ projects of all kinds might be expanded or adopted elsewhere. These claims, and the practical implications to which they give rise, draw on an array of recent evaluations in different sectors in development.
  • Topic: International Development, Humanitarian Intervention, Public Policy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael Woolcock
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: A defining task of development is enhancing a state’s capability for policy implementation. In most low- income countries, alas, such capabilities seem to be stagnant or declining, in no small part because dominant reform strategies are ill-suited to addressing complex non-technical aspects. This has been recognized for at least six decades – indeed, it was a centerpiece of Albert Hirschman’s understanding of the development process – yet this critique, and the significance of its implications, remain on the margins of scholarship and policy. Why? I consider three options, concluding that, paradoxically, followers of Hirschman’s approach inadequately appreciated that gaining more operational traction for their approach was itself a type of problem requiring their ideas to embark on ‘a long voyage of discovery’, a task best accomplished, in this instance, by building – and tapping into the distinctive insights of – a diverse community of development practitioners.
  • Topic: Development, Political Economy, Developing World, International Development
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ricardo Hausmann, Tim O'Brien, Miguel Angel Santos, Ana Grisanti, Semiray Kasoolu, Nikita Taniparti, Jorge Tapia, Ricardo Villasmil
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: In the decade 1999-2009, Jordan experienced an impressive growth acceleration, tripling its exports and increasing income per capita by 38%. Since then, a number of external shocks that include the Global Financial Crisis (2008-2009), the Arab Spring (2011), the Syrian Civil War (2011), and the emergence of the Islamic State (2014) have affected Jordan in significant ways and thrown its economy out of balance. Jordan’s debt-to-GDP ratio has ballooned from 55% (2009) to 94% (2018). The economy has continued to grow amidst massive fiscal adjustment and balance of payments constraints, but the large increase in population – by 50% between 2008 and 2017 – driven by massive waves of refugees has resulted in a 12% cumulative loss in income per capita (2010-2017). Moving forward, debt sustainability will require not only continued fiscal consolidation but also faster growth and international support to keep interest payments on the debt contained. We have developed an innovative framework to align Jordan’s growth strategy with its changing factor endowments. The framework incorporates service industries into an Economic Complexity analysis, utilizing the Dun and Bradstreet database, together with an evaluation of the evolution of Jordan’s comparative advantages over time. Combining several tools to identify critical constraints faced by sectors with the greatest potential, we have produced a roadmap with key elements of a strategy for Jordan to return to faster, more sustainable and more inclusive growth that is consistent with its emerging comparative advantages.
  • Topic: Labor Issues, Women, GDP, International Development, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: Matt Andrews
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Globalization has fed significant economic gains across the world. The gains lead some policymakers in developing countries to believe in the potential of ‘catch up’—where they leverage the gains of an open world economy to foster rapid progress and compete with more developed nations. This belief is particularly evident in countries like Rwanda, where policymakers aspire to turn the country into ‘Africa’s Singapore’. This paper asks if such aspiration is realistic: Do developing countries really gain enough from globalization to catch up to more developed countries? The paper examines the world economy as a league in which countries compete for winnings (manifest in higher income and production). Wealthier countries are in the top tiers of this league and poorer countries are in the lower tiers. The paper asks if gains from the last generation of growth have been distributed in such a way to foster ‘catch up’ by lower tier countries, and if we see these countries ‘catching up’ by moving into higher tiers. This analysis of the world economy is compared with a study of English football, where over 90 clubs play in an multi-tier league system. Prominent examples of ‘catch up’ in this system include Leicester City’s rise from the third tier in 2008 to become first tier champion in 2015. The paper asks if such ‘catch up’ is common in English football, given the way winnings are distributed, and if ‘catch up’ is more common in this context than in the world economy more generally.
  • Topic: Globalization, Developing World, Global Political Economy, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: Africa, Rwanda
  • Author: Kelsey Wise, Amin Awad
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The series of refugee crises in the Middle East and North Africa has created urgent need for coordinated international responses and advocacy. To learn more about the complexities of meeting the needs of diverse refugee populations across the region, and addressing their root causes, JMEPP Levant Regional Editor Kelsey Wise sat down with Amin Awad in advance of his appearance at the Harvard Arab Conference. Mr. Awad currently serves as the Director for the Middle East and North Africa with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and has extensive experience working on refugee issues and in humanitarian relief in the MENA region. He is also the Regional Refugee Coordinator for Syria and Iraq.
  • Topic: Nationalism, Refugee Crisis, Displacement, Syrian War, Resettlement, Child Marriage
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Yemen, United Nations, North Africa, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Josh Dean
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: A little over a month ago, I wrote of an atmosphere of resignation in Israel among Netanyahu’s political opponents leading up to the Israeli parliamentary elections on April 9th. The smattering of center-left parties seeking to rival Netanyahu’s Likud at the ballot box were divided across a range of tickets, unable to put their egos aside and form a joint bloc capable of presenting a veritable challenge to the incumbent prime minister. The long-reigning Israeli leader’s tenure looked, therefore, set to extend even further. The question was not who will be the next prime minister, but rather “Who will be the next Bibi [Netanyahu]?” as Israeli comedian Tom Aharon quipped. But a lot can change in a day of Israeli politics, never mind a month. As political alliances shift rapidly, the announcement of Netanyahu’s indictment on fraud and corruption charges has further destabilized the already-turbulent atmosphere leading up to the April elections.
  • Topic: Corruption, Politics, Law, Elections
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Ali Tehrani, Azadeh Pourzand
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Winter 2019 marked the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. The anniversary celebrations occurred in the midst of a difficult era of socio-economic turmoil, the return ofَ U.S. sanctions, and deepening political infighting in the Islamic Republic. Tensions between the government and the people are especially high. The tectonic plates of social change have been shifting below the surface in Iran over the past two decades, with major discontent erupting in the past year. While the country’s political facade appears largely unchanged, tensions and fragmentations among the ruling elite have deepened. Economic conditions are fast deteriorating for the average citizen, while political repression remains a harsh reality. Iran’s citizens, who have clung to hope and the possibility for change through decades of domestic repression and isolation from the global economy, struggle to remain hopeful. Collective fatigue stemming from years of isolation from the global economy, as well as domestic economic hardship, compounds the disappointment Iranians feel from unfulfilled political promises. The Iranian government has repeatedly failed to carry out promised reforms; in recent years alone, President Hassan Rouhani has proven unable to carry out his promises to “open up Iran politically, ease rigid social restrictions and address human rights abuses.” As this situation continues, Iran risks despair and chaos.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Social Movement, Sanctions, Nuclear Power, Reform, Economy, Memory
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Jacques Singer-Emery
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the second of a three-part essay series on the different paths the U.S. Congress might take to limit Washington’s support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. As explained in Part 1 of this series, the Trump administration’s continued support for the Saudi coalition’s war in Yemen has triggered a range of Congressional responses. Although Congress faces challenges in passing new legislation to denounce Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen and its killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the White House’s Saudi policy implicates at least four pieces of existing legislation: the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), the War Powers Resolution, the Foreign Assistance Control Act (FAA), and the Leahy Laws. These laws were all passed during the Cold War to curtail the executive’s increasing ability to unilaterally sell arms, supply military aid, and order U.S. troops to assist allies in a theater of war. The executive must abide by these laws. If the President refuses or cuts corners, Congress can bring him to heel directly via impeachment, or indirectly through court orders that force executive branch agencies to halt the restricted activity.
  • Topic: Government, War, Law, Courts, Legislation
  • Political Geography: Yemen, Saudi Arabia, North America, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Jacques Singer-Emery
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the third of a three-part essay series on the different paths the U.S. Congress might take to limit Washington’s support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Credible allegations of Saudi war crimes and human rights abuses in Yemen should trigger the FAA and Leahy Laws to prevent U.S. aid from reaching the Saudi-led coalition, as discussed in part 2 of this series. However, the U.S. Constitution forbids Congress from unilaterally issuing orders to any executive agency, including the Defense and State Departments. Accordingly, both the Foreign Assistance Control Act (FAA) and the Leahy laws place the onus on the executive to identify and respond to gross violations of human rights. Thus far, the executive has turned a blind eye to the Saudi coalition’s actions. Congress could independently find that Saudi Arabia has engaged in a “consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” by commissioning its own investigations. But if the executive remains unconvinced, Congress only has two options to enforce the FAA and the Leahy laws: impeach the President, or obtain a court order requiring the executive withhold aid and arms pursuant to these laws. The first action is unlikely to occur here, but the second is a viable option. To secure a court order, Congress must show that the executive’s refusal to follow the FAA and the Leahy laws uniquely injures the legislative branch in a way that only the courts can remedy.
  • Topic: Government, International Law, Law, War Crimes, Weapons , Courts, Legislation
  • Political Geography: Yemen, Saudi Arabia, North America, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Asma Elgamal
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Described as one of the “greatest fusers of politics and art,” Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi has spent much of his life studying – and talking about – Arab art. Between founding the Barjeel Art Foundation, an Emirati-based initiative that collects and preserves Arab art, to live-tweeting the events of the Arab-spring to millions of Twitter users, al-Qassemi has a reputation for breaking silence on topics most members of an Arab royal family would be reluctant to touch. On February 7th, at an event hosted by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Security, al-Qassemi gave a talk entitled “Politics of Modern Middle Eastern Art” in which he explored the greatest hits of modern political Arab art.
  • Topic: Politics, History, Arts, Culture
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Jacques Singer-Emery
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the first of a three-part essay series on the different paths the U.S. Congress might take to limit Washington’s support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Congress is considering a range of options to express its displeasure with Riyadh after Saudi agents murdered prominent Saudi journalist and critic Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in September 2018, and journalists and NGOs around the world continue to highlight human rights abuses perpetrated by Saudi-led coalition forces in Yemen. Of these options, the most notable is the Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act of 2019. Congress has already voted to condemn President Donald Trump’s unequivocal support for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: the Senate voted March 13th to end US support for the war in Yemen, echoing a measure that passed the House in mid-February. But, the Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act would go further still, sanctioning those in the Saudi government responsible for Khashoggi’s death and curtailing U.S. arms sales and military aid critical to the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen. The White House vehemently opposes the bill. If it passes, President Trump is expected to veto it, just as he is expected to veto the Senate’s March and House’s February resolutions.
  • Topic: Government, Law, Military Affairs, Legislation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, North America, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: James Aird
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: As Egypt’s ‘Year of Education’ begins, the government pushes much needed reform in pre-university education across the country. Supported by a $500 million World Bank loan, the government is accelerating efforts to train teachers, build schools, and implement tablet technology in primary and secondary education. The reforms include one ambitious project that is especially deserving of more attention: the expansion of a pilot program adapting Japanese educational techniques to the Egyptian context. At a meeting in Tokyo on February 29th, 2016, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced a joint partnership that sought to link Egypt to Japan through educational development, in part thanks to al Sisi’s personal admiration for Japan’s education system. As part of the joint partnership, Japanese and Egyptian administrators and policymakers set out to reshape Egyptian pedagogy. Modeled on Japan’s Tokkatsu education system, which refers to a program of “whole child development,” Egypt aims to build schools that place great emphasis on teaching students to be responsible, disciplined, and clean, as opposed to the more traditional model prioritizing higher standardized testing scores. A Tokkatsu-inspired curriculum is already being used at over forty schools that accepted more than 13,000 students in September 2018. While President al Sisi plans to personally monitor the new education system, other MENA states should also watch closely. If it successfully contributes to building Egypt’s human capital and improving students’ competitiveness, other states in the region might consider implementing similar educational policies.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Reform, Children, Partnerships, Youth
  • Political Geography: Japan, Middle East, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Lydia Sizer
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: On March 17th, 2011, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice wore green for St. Patrick’s Day as she took her seat at the circular Security Council conference table at the UN headquarters in New York. In Libya, the color green is associated not with St. Patrick, but the misfortune-bringing dictator, Muammar al-Qaddhafi. Ambassador Rice, along with the other representatives of the Security Council, gathered in New York that day to consider a response to Qaddhafi’s repression of anti-regime protesters. They voted unanimously in favor of a no-fly zone over Libya to protect the protestors, supporting a revolution that ultimately led to the dictator’s overthrow and an opportunity for democratic transition. As artillery fire maims the outskirts of Tripoli and rival militias engage in indiscriminate violence that ensnares civilians and trapped refugees, the chances of a democratic future for Libya are fading. Yet, this painful moment in Libya’s history also presents a rare opportunity to harness greater international attention to empower moderate voices and advance a vision for Libya that overcomes division, ensures long-term stability, and weakens the threats of resurgent authoritarianism and transnational terrorism.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Democracy, Refugees, Arab Spring, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Reva Dhingra
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The 2018-2019 school year opened with some worrying figures for Syrian children in Jordan. Over forty percent of an estimated 240,000 registered Syrian school-aged refugees remain out of formal school. Despite ongoing efforts, enrollment levels of about 131,000 in September remained well below the target of 170,000 children. With most refugees unlikely to return to Syria in the immediate future—the number of registered refugees increased in 2018—education while in Jordan remains a pressing concern. Funding cuts, school and teacher quality, documentation barriers, and complex mental health and psychosocial problems among refugee children contribute to education shortfalls, but only partially explain the unexpectedly low enrollment of refugee children. The initial education response was fractured between the immediate imperative of keeping children off the streets and the long-term imperative of integrating children into formal school. As the crisis stretches into its eighth year, however, the impulses of the early education response continue to impede efforts to educate Syrian children in Jordan. Despite the best efforts of donors, NGOs, and the Jordanian government, this early approach may have inadvertently increased time out of school for children who, under government regulations, are not allowed to re-enroll after three years. As a result, many of these children will likely never be able to enroll in school again. Examining the refugee education response in Jordan offers lessons for providing education during the early stages of refugee crises.
  • Topic: Education, Children, Refugees, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Matt Andrews
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Observers claim that public policies fail ‘often’. This paper asks, ‘how often’? It is an important question, because public policies absorb resources to address major social issues. We should know if policies are proving bad social investments; routinely failing to solve focal problems at high costs. Unfortunately, it is not easy to assess this. Many public policy organizations—governments in particular—do not provide accessible views onto overall success or failure. The World Bank does, however, provide such view—and it supports policy interventions one finds in governments across the world. The paper thus examines World Bank failure rates. It finds that there are different answers to the ‘how often’ question, depending on responses to a second question, ‘what is failure anyway?’ In studying both questions, the paper identifies a bias in the World Bank—and probably all organizations adopting rational ‘plan and control’ policy processes—to measuring ‘project and product success’ rather than a broader view of success as ‘problems are solved with development impact’. This means that policy organizations like the Bank judge success based on whether planned products are delivered through an efficient process; not whether policies solve the problems that warranted intervention in the first place, or whether the policies promoted development outcomes. Is this how citizens would want their public policy organizations to conceptualize success?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, World Bank, International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Dan Levy, Mae Klinger, Theodore Svoronos
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Two-stage examinations consist of a first stage in which students work individually as they typically do in examinations (stage 1), followed by a second stage in which they work in groups to complete another examination (stage 2), which typically consists of a subset of the questions from the first examination. Data from two-stage midterm and final examinations are used to assess the extent to which individuals improve their performance when collaborating with other students. On average, the group (stage 2) score was about one standard deviation above the individual (stage 1) score. While this difference cannot be interpreted as the causal effect of two-stage examinations on learning, it suggests that individuals experienced substantial performance gains when working in groups in an examination. This average performance gain was comparable with the average difference between the top performer of the group in stage 1 and the group’s stage 1 average, and was equivalent to about two-thirds of the difference between the “super student” score (i.e. the sum of the maximum score for each question in stage 1) and the group’s stage 1 average. This last result suggests that group collaboration takes substantial (albeit partial) advantage of the aggregate knowledge and skills of the group’s individual members. Student feedback about their experience with two-stage examinations reveal that that these types of examinations are generally perceived to be more helpful for learning and are less stressful than traditional examinations. Finally, using data on group gender compositions, we investigate the potential role of gender dynamics on group efficiency.
  • Topic: Education, Gender Issues, Collaborative Learning, Collaborative Efficiency
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Ricardo Hausmann, Carlo Pietrobelli, Miguel Angel Santos
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The literature on income gaps between Chiapas and the rest of Mexico revolves around individual factors, such as education and ethnicity. Yet, twenty years after the Zapatista rebellion, the schooling gap between Chiapas and the other Mexican entities has shrunk while the income gap has widened, and we find no evidence indicating that Chiapas indigenes are worse-off than their likes elsewhere in Mexico. We explore a different hypothesis. Based on census data, we calculate the economic complexity index, a measure of the knowledge agglomeration embedded in the economic activities at a municipal level in Mexico. Economic complexity explains a larger fraction of the income gap than any individual factor. Our results suggest that chiapanecos are not the problem, the problem is Chiapas. These results hold when we extend our analysis to Mexico’s thirty-one federal entities, suggesting that place-specific determinants that have been overlooked in both the literature and policy, have a key role in the determination of income gaps.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Migration, Political Economy, Economic Inequality
  • Political Geography: Central America, Mexico, Chiapas
  • Author: Ricardo Hausmann, Julian Hinz, Muhammad A. Yildirim
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Venezuela has seen an unprecedented exodus of people in recent months. In response to a dramatic economic downturn in which inflation is soaring, oil production tanking, and a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding, many Venezuelans are seeking refuge in neighboring countries. However, the lack of official numbers on emigration from the Venezuelan government, and receiving countries largely refusing to acknowledge a refugee status for affected people, it has been difficult to quantify the magnitude of this crisis. In this note we document how we use data from the social media service Twitter to measure the emigration of people from Venezuela. Using a simple statistical model that allows us to correct for a sampling bias in the data, we estimate that up to 2.9 million Venezuelans have left the country in the past year.
  • Topic: Migration, Financial Crisis, Refugees, Internet, Social Media
  • Political Geography: South America, Venezuela
  • Author: Matt Andrews, Tim McNaught, Salimah Samji
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Governments across the world regularly pursue reforms that achieve less than was originally expected or is needed to make the state function better. The limits to reform success are often obvious in even the early days of reform, where gaps and weaknesses manifest. Many governments have no mechanisms built into their reform processes to see these gaps and weaknesses, however, and persist with predefined reform plans instead of adapting designs to close the gaps and address weaknesses. One antidote to this challenge is to create reflection points where reformers scrutinize their progress to identify weaknesses, reflect on these weaknesses, and adapt their next steps to address the weaknesses. In the spirit of John Kingdon’s work on ‘policy windows’, we call these reflection points ‘adaptation windows’—moments where reformers acknowledge problems in their reforms, adapt reforms to address such, and mobilize support for this adaptation. This paper discusses an effort to open an adaptation window for reformers to ‘see’ and then respond to public financial management (PFM) reform gaps and weaknesses in Mozambique. The paper details why and how this work was pursued, and also reflects on results of the government’s reflection at the adaptation window.
  • Topic: Government, Reform, International Development, State
  • Political Geography: Africa, Mozambique
  • Author: Michael Woolcock
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: In rich and poor countries alike, a core challenge is building the state’s capability for policy implementation. Delivering high-quality public health and health care – affordably, reliably, at scale, for all – exemplifies this challenge, since doing so requires deftly integrating refined technical skills (surgery), broad logistics management (supply chains, facilities maintenance), adaptive problem solving (curative care) and resolving ideological differences (who pays? who provides?), even as the prevailing health problems themselves only become more diverse, complex and expensive as countries become more prosperous. The current state of state capability in developing countries, however, is demonstrably alarming, with the strains and demands only likely to intensify in the coming decades. Prevailing ‘best practice’ strategies for building implementation capability – copying and scaling putative successes from abroad – are too often part of the problem, while individual training (‘capacity building’) and technological upgrades (e.g., new management information systems) remain necessary but deeply insufficient. An alternative approach is outlined, one centered on building implementation capability by working iteratively to solve problems nominated and prioritized by local actors.
  • Topic: Health, Developing World, State, Public Policy, Policy Implementation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mason Hill
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the second in a three part series on Turkish constitutionalism one year after the 2017 constitutional referendum. At Erdoğan’s election in 2002, he appeared to be the latest in a line of populists elected to office. Initially, his success seemed the result of an ability as an Islamist to appease the concerns of the secular establishment. This was bolstered by his stated commitment to Turkey’s accession to the European Union. While in the 1990s Islamist reformers failed to pass institutional reforms aimed at decreasing military control of Turkish politics, the military allowed Erdoğan the space to pursue institutional reform that would enhance Turkey’s chances of becoming a member of the European Union. This attempt by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to reimagine Turkish democracy for the 21st century took the form of a general push for constitutional reform.
  • Topic: Politics, Governance, Law, Elections, Constitution, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Coup
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Mason Hill
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the first in a three part series on Turkish constitutionalism one year after the 2017 constitutional referendum. Constitutions are nations’ mission statements, and articulate pre-political commitments that turn residents into citizens, and borders into a nation. In Turkey, generations of political leaders have used constitutional reform as an opportunity to set their political agenda and highlight their priorities. The 2017 referendum must be understood in the context of a democracy where voters have experienced successive constitutional reforms aimed at complementing the mission each new generation of leaders gives itself. A view of modern Turkish history reveals the tendency of leaders to use constitutional reform to address deficiencies in their respective administrations, and reflects the latent tension between populism, military intervention, and constitutional integrity.
  • Topic: Politics, History, Law, Reform, Constitution
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Mason Hill
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the third in a three part series on Turkish constitutionalism one year after the 2017 constitutional referendum. the 2017 Constitutional Referendum have only entrenched that reality. Erdogan’s dominance in Turkish politics should not obscure the fact that the individual office holder rather than an ideologically-grounded bloc is now the fulcrum upon which Turkish politics shifts. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) that came to power promising reform, religious pluralism and market-friendly economic policies has become a vehicle for Erdoğan’s personal ambition. After the Gezi Park protests and amid allegations of his son’s corruption, Erdogan became an increasingly polarizing personality in Turkish politics who weighed down the AKP brand in the 2015 parliamentary elections. Yet Erdoğan’s popularity returned during the pivotal moment of the 2016 coup attempt, when he appeared in a live interview with a reporter via Facetime. By the time 2017 referendum campaign, Erdoğan personally rather than AKP parliamentarians was the medium around which responses were polarized. The extension of Erdoğan’s personal control over the levers of power was particularly apparent in the referendum’s changes to the structure of the legislative and judicial branches of the Turkish government, granting legal justification to Erdoğan’s de facto force of personality regime. Developments over the past year have made clear that Turks are increasingly casting votes for and against candidates rather than parties.
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, Constitution, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Coup
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Arega Hovsepyan
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: After the attempted coup d’état of 15 July 2016, discussion inside expert circles about the construction of a “new” Turkey took on a new urgency. The result of the 2017 constitutional referendum remade Turkey’s political institutions, but the events of the 2016 coup attempt also catalyzed changes to the symbolism of the state. The ruling Justice and Development Party, whose slogans had long promised “a new Turkey,” was at the forefront of the surge in hardened messaging. The cornerstone of this “new Turkey” is а classical concentration of political power in the hands of one person, specifically President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Kemalism, Turkey’s founding ideology, is in the process of being replaced by the new ideology of the new president. Although it is still early to characterise this new ideology in Turkey as “Erdoğanism”, the similarities and contradictions of Kemalism and Erdoğanism lend insight on the structure of Turkish politics. The era of Erdoğan has been unleashed in Turkey, and moreover, its eponym is eager to not only replace the personality cult of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, but also to surpass the historic founder’s titanic image.
  • Topic: Politics, History, Authoritarianism, Ideology, Coup
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: James Aird
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Five months after Iraq’s May 2018 parliamentary elections, rival political blocs have broken deadlock and are set to form a new government. On October 2nd, the Iraqi parliament selected Barham Salih, a career politician from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), for the Iraqi presidency. Shortly after his election, Salih named Adil Abdul Mahdi, Iraq’s former oil minister, as prime minister. Iraqis and international observers applauded the selection of these politicians who have eschewed sectarian rhetoric as a victory for political compromise, but Salih and Abdul Mahdi face the challenge of answering popular calls for government reform after a summer marked by violent protests.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Politics, Water, Elections, Employment, Protests, State
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Deniz Çıtak
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: On January 20, 2018 at 17:00 local time, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) entered Afrin, a city in northern Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan named the military operation “Operation Olive Branch” (Zeytin Dalı Harekâtı) for the region’s many olive trees. According to Turkey, the operation does not violate international law because the operation was against the PYD and YPG as an act of self-defense, aiming to guarantee the security of Turkey’s borders. For Turkey, the links between the PKK and Syrian Kurdish groups classify Kurdish activity in northern Syria as a threat to Turkey’s domestic security.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Military Intervention, Conflict, Syrian War, Kurds
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: John Millock
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: ISIL recruited children through a variety of means, including abducting children from orphanages and hospitals, or offering to pay parents hundreds of dollars a month in exchange for each child’s attendance at military training. Additionally, child soldiers were often taken from particular ethnic groups or religious communities, such as Yazidis and Christians, as a means to terrorize these groups. Since the territorial collapse of ISIL began in 2017, many of these child soldiers have defected; some fled ISIL territory and are living anonymously in Europe while others returned to their home countries. Debates about how national legal systems should handle these former child soldiers have arisen in all of these jurisdictions. In Iraq, which has dealt with a particularly large number of former ISIL child soldiers, there have been concerns about the national justice system’s capacity to adequately address the prosecution and rehabilitation of ISIL’s former child soldiers.
  • Topic: United Nations, Law, Children, Violent Extremism, Islamic State, Transitional Justice, Conflict, Criminal Justice
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Adham Sahloul
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The murder of Saudi Arabian columnist Jamal Khashoggi on October 2nd in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has been a clarion call for the Washington foreign policy community, one that is redefining the United States’ relations with the Saudi Kingdom and, by extension, US strategy in the Middle East. The Khashoggi affair will outlive President Donald Trump; the reputation of Saudi’s leadership is beyond repair, and with Global Magnitsky sanctions and the newly proposed bipartisan Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act, the US Congress appears ready to act where the executive has fallen short. The CIA has concluded that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) ordered Khashoggi’s murder. Trump, who has threatened “severe consequences” for whomever is found responsible, seemed over the past month to be looking for a way out of naming, shaming, and punishing MbS himself. In his statement on November 20th, Trump confirmed many observers’ worst fears about this president’s worst instincts, saying that US security, economic, and political interests transcend this incident. For a sitting US president to balk at the notion of holding an ally accountable and making even a symbolic effort to address such a gruesome crime with clear chains of responsibility constitutes a new low in US foreign policy
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Crime, Human Rights, Politics, Trump, Journalism, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, North America, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Fridtjof Falk
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: On November 5th, 2018, the Trump administration re-imposed severe sanctions on Iran. These sanctions, which President Obama called the “toughest sanctions ever faced by the Iranian government,” were lifted by the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Deal. The JCPOA was signed with a view to blocking Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons, allowing international inspectors into Iran in return for sanctions relief. Withdrawing the United States (US) from the deal was a prominent promise of Donald Trump leading up to the presidential elections of 2016. In a May 2018 speech that described the deal as rooted in “fiction,” President Trump made good on his promise to leave the JCPOA and to move to unilaterally re-impose sanctions on Iran.
  • Topic: International Relations, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions, Nuclear Power, Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Nicholas Norberg
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: In the backdrop of negotiations over drafting Syria’s new constitution and a transition in UN representation on Syria, the conflict in Idlib continues to simmer. Unrest in Idlib and dissatisfaction there with the internationally-recognized opposition, the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), leaves residents of Syria’s northwest excluded from constitutional committee. This is significant because the constitutional convention is increasingly viewed as a precondition for advancing the larger peace process. The constitutional committee is no place to hammer out granular differences between warring factions in Idlib, but the course of events there hold significant implications for the future of the broader peace process.
  • Topic: Peace Studies, Conflict, Syrian War, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, United Nations, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Erin K. Fletcher, Rohini Pande, Charity Troyer Moore
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Sustained high economic growth since the early 1990s has brought significant change to the lives of Indian women, and yet female labor force participation has stagnated at under 30%, and recent labor surveys even suggest some decline since 2005. Using a nationally representative household survey, we lay out five descriptive facts about female labor force participation in India that help identify constraints to higher participation. First, there is significant demand for jobs by women currently not in the labor force. Second, willing female non-workers have difficulty matching to jobs. Third, obtaining vocational training is correlated with a higher likelihood of working among women. Fourth, women are more likely to be working in sectors where the gender wage gap and unexplained wage gap, commonly attributed to discrimination, is higher. Finally, female-friendly policies, including quotas, are correlated with higher female participation in some key sectors. Combining these facts with a review of the literature, we map out important areas for future investigation and highlight how policies such as employment quotas and government initiatives focused on skilling and manufacturing should be better investigated and leveraged to increase women’s economic activity.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, Inequality, Economic growth, Public Policy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Masoomeh Khandan, Lant Pritchett
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: A long-standing literature in the sociology of organizations (e.g., DiMaggio and Powell 1983) suggests that, as change agents face uncertainty about actions and outcomes, they often seek legitimacy through isomorphism: adopting structures, policies and reforms similar (at least in appearance) to those deemed successful elsewhere. We examine history’s most rapid reduction of fertility—from 8.4 in 1985 to 2.4 in 2002, in rural Iran—as an example of successful autonomous reform. The Iranian state, which was self-consciously cut off from nearly all of the traditional vectors of global isomorphism, initiated a successful behavioral change in a domain (family planning) perhaps unexpected for an Islamic state. We describe and explain the Iranian approach, in particular the rural program, contrasting it with the global strategy of adopting universal "best practices."
  • Topic: Governance, Health Care Policy, Reform, Public Policy
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Matt Andrews, Duminda Ariyasinghe, Amara S. Beling, Peter Harrington, Tim McNaught, Fathima Nafla Niyas, Anisha Pooblan, Mahinda Ramanayake, H. Senavirathne, Upatissa Sirigampala, Renuka M. Weerakone, W. A. F. Jayasiri Wijesooriya
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Many countries, like Sri Lanka, are trying to diversify their economies but often lack the capabilities to lead diversification programs. One of these capabilities relates to preparing the investment climate in the country. Many governments tackle this issue by trying to improve their scores on ‘Doing Business Indicators’ which measure performance on general factors affecting business globally (like how long it takes to open a business or pay taxes). Beyond these common indicators, however, investors face context specific challenges when working in countries like Sri Lanka that are not addressed in global indicators. Governments often lack the capabilities to identify and resolve such issues. This paper narrates a recent initiative to establish these capabilities in Sri Lanka. The initiative adopted a Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) process, where a team of Sri Lankan officials worked with Harvard Center for International Development (CID) facilitators to build capabilities over a six-month period. The paper tells the story of this process, providing documented evidence of the progress over time (and describing thinking behind the PDIA process as well). The paper will be of interest to those thinking about the challenges associated with creating a climate that is investor or business friendly and to those interested in processes (like PDIA) focused on building state capability and fostering policy implementation.
  • Topic: Economy, Business , Global Political Economy, State
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Sri Lanka
  • Author: Matt Andrews, Duminda Ariyasinghe, Krishantha Britto, Peter Harrington, Nelson Kumaratunga, M.K.D. Lawrance, Tim McNaught, Hemadree Naotunna, Ganga Palaketiya, Anisha Pooblan, Dilip Sanmarasinghe, Prasanjith Wijayathilake
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Many countries, like Sri Lanka, are trying to diversify their economies but often lack the capabilities to lead diversification programs. One of these capabilities relates to engaging new investors—in new sectors—to bring their FDI and know-how to a new country and kick-start new sources of activity. This paper narrates a recent (and ongoing) initiative to establish this kind of capability in Sri Lanka. The initiative adopted a Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) process, where a team of Sri Lankan officials worked with Harvard Center for International Development (CID) facilitators to build capabilities over a six-month period. The paper tells the story of this process, providing documented evidence of the progress over time (and describing thinking behind the PDIA process as well). It shows how an investment engagement approach can emerge in a reasonably limited period, when a committed team of public officials are effectively authorized and engaged. The paper will be of particular interest to those thinking about investor engagement challenges and to those interested in processes (like PDIA) focused on building state capability and fostering policy implementation in public contexts.
  • Topic: Monetary Policy, Economies, Global Political Economy, Investment
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Sri Lanka
  • Author: Jeffrey Frankel
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Countries that specialize in commodities have in recent years been hit by high volatility in world prices for their exports. This paper suggests four ways that commodity-exporters can make themselves less vulnerable. (1) Option contracts can be used to hedge against short-term declines in the commodity price without giving up the upside, as Mexico has shown. (2) Commodity-linked bonds can hedge longer-term risk, and often have a natural ultimate counter-party in multinational corporations that depend on the commodity as an input. (3) The well-documented pro-cyclicality of fiscal policy among commodity exporters can be reduced by insulating official forecasters against an optimism bias, as Chile has shown. (4) Monetary policy can be made automatically more counter-cyclical, judged by the criterion of currency appreciation in reaction to positive terms-of-trade shocks, under either of two regimes: peggers can add the export commodity to a currency basket (CCB, for “Currency-plus-Commodity Basket”) and others can target Nominal Income instead of the CPI.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Oil, Commodities, Currency Basket, Indexed Bonds
  • Political Geography: South America, Mexico, Chile
  • Author: Ricardo Hausmann, Miguel Angel Santos, Juan Obach
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This report aims to summarize the main findings of the project as gathered by the three baseline documents, and frame them within a coherent set of policy recommendations that can help Panama to maintain their growth momentum in time and make it more inclusive. Three elements stand out as cornerstones of our proposal: (i) attracting and retaining qualified human capital; (ii) maximizing the diffusion of know-how and knowledge spillovers, and (iii) leveraging on public-private dialog to tackle coordination problems that are hindering economic activity outside the Panama-Colón axis.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Economic growth, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: Central America, Panama
  • Author: Jeffrey Frankel
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The paper proposes an exchange rate regime for oil-exporting countries. The goal is to achieve the best of both flexible and fixed exchange rates. The arrangement is designed to deliver monetary policy that counteracts rather than exacerbates the effects of swings in the oil market, while yet offering the day-to-day transparency and predictability of a currency peg. The proposal is to peg the national currency to a basket, but a basket that includes not only the currencies of major trading partners (in particular, the dollar and the euro), but also the export commodity (oil). The plan is called Currency-plus-Commodity Basket (CCB). The paper begins by fleshing out the need for an innovative arrangement that allows accommodation to trade shocks. The analysis provides evidence from six Gulf countries that periods when their currencies were “undervalued”, in the sense that the actual foreign exchange value lay below what it would have been under the CCB proposal, were periods of overheating as reflected in high inflation and of external imbalance as reflected in high balance of payments surpluses. Conversely, periods when the currencies were “overvalued,” in the sense that their foreign exchange value lay above what it would have been under CCB, featured unusually low inflation and low balance of payments. These results are suggestive of the implication that the economy would have been more stable under CCB. The last section of the paper offers a practical blueprint for detailed implementation of the proposal.
  • Topic: Economics, Oil, Exchange Rate Policy, Commodities, Currency Basket
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Matt Andrews, Peter Harrington
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Many countries, like Sri Lanka, are trying to diversify their economies but often lack the capabilities to lead diversification programs. One of these capabilities relates to targeting new sectors to promote and pursue through a diversification policy: countries know they are ‘doomed to choose’ sectors to target,1 but lack effective capabilities to do the targeting. This paper narrates a recent (and ongoing) initiative to establish this kind of capability in Sri Lanka. The initiative adopted a Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) process, where a team of Sri Lankan officials worked with Harvard Center for International Development (CID) facilitators to build capabilities. The paper tells the story of this process, providing documented evidence of the progress over time and describing the thinking behind the PDIA process. It shows how a reliable targeting mechanism can emerge in a reasonably limited period, when a committed team of public officials are effectively authorized and engaged. The paper will be of particular interest to those thinking about targeting for diversification and to those interested in processes (like PDIA) which are focused on building state capability and fostering policy implementation in public contexts.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Economic growth, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Sri Lanka
  • Author: Michele Coscia, Timothy Cheston, Ricardo Hausmann
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Are regions poor because they have bad institutions or are they poor because they are disconnected from the social channels through which technology diffuses? This paper tests institutional and technological theories of economic convergence by looking at income convergence across Colombian municipalities. We use formal employment and wage data to estimate growth of income per capita at the municipal level. In Colombia, municipalities are organized into 32 departamentos or states. We use cellphone metadata to cluster municipalities into 32 communication clusters, defined as a set of municipalities that are densely connected through phone calls. We show that these two forms of grouping municipalities are very different. We study the effect on municipal income growth of the characteristics of both the state and the communication cluster to which the municipality belongs. We find that belonging to a richer communication cluster accelerates convergence, while belonging to a richer state does not. This result is robust to controlling for state fixed effects when studying the impact of communication clusters and vice versa. The results point to the importance of social interactions rather than formal institutions in the growth process.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Science and Technology, Economic growth, Institutions
  • Political Geography: Colombia, South America
  • Author: Ricardo Hausmann, Ljubica Nedelkoska
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Over the past few decades, migration from developing to developed countries was often viewed as 'brain drain', as talented workers were forced out of their home countries due to lack of competitive opportunities. The population that left these countries and settled in the more economically advanced parts of the world have, over time, acquired financial capital and built social networks within host countries. Hence, while the home countries were still suffering from the scarcity of knowhow, significant shares of their populations began to actively engage in more productive economies. It seems that, through migration, developing countries had unexpectedly created significant networks of human and financial capital abroad. But are these foreign networks transferring knowhow back to their home countries? It turns out that those same reasons that induced the economic migration in the first place, often make it difficult for migrants to engage afterwards. What would happen, however, if a large proportion of these diasporas was forced to return back to their home country - would that lead to knowhow transfer? Our study investigates the impact of such an abrupt return migration wave between Greece and Albania.
  • Topic: Development, Migration, Labor Issues, Developing World, Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Greece, Albania
  • Author: Shireen Al-Adeim
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the first of a three-part series of essays on Yemen highlighting the magnitude and impact of the civil war on Yemenis. Yemen continues to suffer in silence as the world turns away from its ongoing misery. Despite over two and a half years of war, the average American seems oblivious to the United States’ role in fueling the conflict in Yemen. While wealthy Arab states like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates bombard the Middle East’s poorest country, pushing the country toward famine and an unprecedented cholera outbreak, the US government (beginning with the Obama administration and continuing with Trump) has continued to fully support the Saudi-led coalition through the sale of weapons, mid-air refueling, targeting intelligence, and other logistical support.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, War, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, United States of America
  • Author: Shireen Al-Adeim
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the second of a three-part series of essays on Yemen highlighting the magnitude and impact of the civil war on Yemenis. Starting in March 2015, Saudi Arabia led a coalition of several Arab countries in bombing Yemen, its neighbor to the south. The coalition’s indiscriminate bombing has targeted countless homes, schools, markets, and even hospitals. Yemenis have become accustomed to double-tap and triple-tap strikes that target rescuers after an attack. One notable case was a double-tap strike that killed at least 140 mourners at a large funeral home in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital. The number of deaths resulting from US/Saudi airstrikes and fighting between Saudi-allied and Saleh/Houthi-allied forces has been conservatively estimated at 10,000 deaths and 40,000 injuries. The hidden costs of war, however, are much greater.
  • Topic: Health, Poverty, War, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, North America, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Mohamed Saleh
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the third of a three-part series of essays on Yemen highlighting the magnitude and impact of the civil war on Yemenis. Yemen is located on the southern edge of the Arabian peninsula, with the Red Sea and Egypt to its west, the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa to its south, Oman on its northeastern border, and Saudi Arabia along its northern border. Once benign representations of Yemen’s geography and sovereignty, those borders now symbolize nothing but profound anguish. The edges outlining a nation whose people remain imprisoned while waiting for life-saving aid which may not come. What at one point was a country grappling with the contradictions of 21st century development and economic growth has been bombed so viciously and blockaded so resolutely that close to a million of its inhabitants may die from a disease easily cured by oral rehydration therapy – a medical expression for treatment by purified water and modest amounts of sugar, salt, and zinc supplements. Condiments and a few bottles from a local pharmacy in any European country, and water. That is all. And yet the international community continues to watch in horror, its reaction anemic, its response stunted.
  • Topic: Civil War, War, Arab Spring, Humanitarian Intervention, International Community
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Salman al-Dosari, Aziza al-Manea, 'Adel Khamis al-Zahrani, Hind al-Mutairi, Abdulrahman al-Rashed
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The General Entertainment Authority was created last year as part of Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” plan. The primary goal of Vision 2030 is to diversify Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent economy, but it also aims to foster a “vibrant society” with “meaningful entertainment for citizens.” Public cinemas are banned in the kingdom, and some Saudis seek diversion abroad, often in nearby Bahrain and Dubai. So far, the General Entertainment Authority has provoked a mixed reaction: some have lauded its work to bring more cultural events to Saudi Arabia, while others accuse it of moving too quickly, and not offering enough options to less wealthy Saudis. Here are excerpts of what five Saudi pundits had to say about the issue.
  • Topic: Culture, Reform, Media, News Analysis, Leisure
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Mahdi Dakhlallah, Imad Salim, Tahseen al-Halabi, Bashar al-Assad
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: During the presidential campaign, Trump said he “[doesn’t] like Assad at all” and described the Syrian leader as “a bad guy.” But he compared Assad favorably to the alternatives. “Assad is killing ISIS,” Trump stated, whereas “we don’t even know who they [the rebels] are.” Trump even claimed Assad to be “much tougher and much smarter” than political rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Unsurprisingly, Assad and his admirers took heart in Trump’s surprise victory last November, with an adviser to the Syrian president saying the American people had “sent a great, a very important message to the world.” Yet Assad supporters – as well as the Syrian president himself – are taking a cautious approach to the new US administration, unsure of whether, and to what extent, Trump will overhaul American foreign policy. Here’s what columnists in pro-Assad media outlets think about Trump’s implications for Syria, followed by excerpts from two interviews with Assad about the new US president.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War, Elections, News Analysis, Trump, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, has become the latest victim of the Turkish government’s crackdown on press freedoms. Turkey’s Information Technologies and Communications Authority (BTK) did not give an explanation for last week’s ban. But the blocking of Wikipedia came as little surprise in Turkey, whose citizens have experienced sporadic blackouts of social media sites since May 2013.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Internet, Social Media, Freedom of Expression, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Climate change is affecting us all – but some parts of the world will probably bear a far bigger burden than others. A recent study published in the journal Climate Change shows that rising temperatures in the Middle East and North Africa are likely to exceed 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, even if the global mean temperature remains below this threshold.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Natural Resources, Water
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Gulf Nations
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The Tunisian revolution of 2010-11 has been understood as a point of rupture after years of worsening job prospects and living standards in the country. Some have claimed it highlighted the inefficacy of Tunisia’s development policies, while other studies saw a link between high rates of literacy, lack of economic opportunities, and protests against the state. One should, however, be cautious of taking an economically deterministic approach to Tunisia’s uprising. Many countries whose citizens are mired in deep poverty and rampant unemployment are not in a state of revolt. Other factors such as pre-existing social networks (like trade unions and family ties) also play a major role in shaping political events. Furthermore, economic statistics in North African countries, such as Tunisia, are often manipulated for political reasons.
  • Topic: Politics, Poverty, Popular Revolt, Reform, Economy, Protests
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Andrew McIndoe
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: On 6 December the Trump administration made an unprecedented decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The announcement, which both recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and conveyed President Trump’s intention to relocate the United States’ embassy to the Holy City, is a move shrouded in obscure motivations. Was it a manifestation of the strongly pro-Israel orientation of the new government? Was it merely the fulfilment of a campaign promise, a sop to the president’s evangelical and pro-Israel support base? Or was it truly designed, as the President maintained, to reenergize a peace process that has been stuck in the mud for years?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Peace Studies, Trump, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jerusalem, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Power – be it tangible, intangible, natural, military, or economic – shapes the capacities of the state and its role within the international system. The Middle East is no exception to this realist reading of international affairs. The Arab Spring, the Syrian conflict, the war in Yemen and the Iranian nuclear deal have all created a battleground, often quite literally, for state power interests to compete with one another. How are these power configurations linked to identity? The United States sees itself as a stronghold of liberal democracy, Japan as the quintessential trading nation, and Switzerland is comfortably ensconced in its 200-year-old neutralism. This “sense of self,” or who states are, shapes and defines what they do. Power and identity routinely mould and inform each other. For a country like the United Arab Emirates, described by many analysts as a middle, regional, or rising power, these questions hold particular relevance as the UAE reshapes its position in the world.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Power Politics, Soft Power, Identities, State
  • Political Geography: Middle East, United Arab Emirates, Gulf Nations