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  • Author: Michael Clemens, Jennifer Hunt
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: An influential strand of research has tested for the effects of immigration on natives’ wages and employment using exogenous refugee supply shocks as natural experiments. Several studies have reached conflicting conclusions about the effects of noted refugee waves such as the Mariel Boatlift in Miami and post-Soviet refugees to Israel. We show that conflicting findings on the effects of the Mariel Boatlift can be explained by a sudden change in the race composition of the Current Population Survey extracts in 1980, specific to Miami but unrelated to the Boatlift. We also show that conflicting findings on the labor market effects of other important refugee waves can be produced by spurious correlation between the instrument and the endogenous variable introduced by applying a common divisor to both. As a whole, the evidence from refugee waves reinforces the existing consensus that the impact of immigration on average native-born workers is small, and fails to substantiate claims of large detrimental impacts on workers with less than high school.
  • Topic: Refugee Issues, Financial Markets, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mayra Buvinic, Megan O'Donnell
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: A review of the recent evaluation evidence on financial services and training interventions questions their gender neutrality and suggests that some design features in these interventions can yield more positive economic outcomes for women than for men. These include features in savings and ‘Graduation’ programs that increase women’s economic self-reliance and self-control, and the practice of repeated micro borrowing that increases financial risk-taking and choice. ‘Smart’ design also includes high quality business management and jobs skills training, and stipends and other incentives in these training programs that address women’s additional time burdens and childcare demands. Peer support may also help to increase financial risk taking and confidence in business decisions, and may augment an otherwise negligible impact of financial literacy training. These features help women overcome gender-related constraints. However, when social norms are too restrictive, and women are prevented from doing any paid work, no design will be smart enough. Subjective economic empowerment appears to be an important intermediate outcome for women that should be promoted and more reliably and accurately measured. More research is also needed on de-biasing service provision, which can be gender biased; lastly, whenever possible, results should be sex-disaggregated and reported for individuals as well as households.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, International Trade and Finance, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: William Reuben, Flávia Carbonari
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Peru is a remarkable example of a country that established civil identification as a national priority in response to the need to re-integrate the state after a serious insurgency. It has built one of the strongest and most inclusive national ID programs in the world, including for children. The approach has combined the creation of an autonomous civil registration and identification agency and the use of performance-based financing to expand coverage to poor, remote, communities and to help integrate civil registration with the national ID. It offers lessons for many countries struggling to achieve SDG 16.9, to provide legal identity to all by 2030, including birth registration.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, International Security, Information Age
  • Political Geography: Peru
  • Author: Souleymane Soumahoro
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In this paper, I examine the effects of power sharing on vulnerability to adverse shocks in a multiethnic setting. Combining a unique dataset on the allocation of ministerial posts across ethnicities with the spatial distribution of Ebola, I provide evidence that ethnic representation mitigated the transmission of Ebola in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The findings suggest that one percentage point increase in proportional cabinet shares reduced Ebola transmission by five percent, as reflected in the total number of confirmed cases. I also provide suggestive evidence that this relationship goes beyond a simple correlation and operates through public resource capture and trust in political institutions.
  • Topic: World Health Organization, Health Care Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Charles Kenny, Dev Patel
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes six waves of responses from the World Values Survey to understand the determinants of beliefs about women’s roles in society and their relationship with the legal system and outcomes. Using survey data for 300,000 individuals, we find that characteristics of an individual’s home country only explain about a fifth of the variation in values, and a single individual can report strongly different norms about women’s equality across different domains. There is a strong correlation between norms, laws and female labor force participation and between norms and the proportion of legislators who are women—but not between norms and relative female tertiary education. There is some suggestive evidence that laws may be more significant than norms in determining female employment outcomes, but the available evidence does not allow for strong causal statements at the cross-country level.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael Clemens, Ethan Lewis, Hannah Postel
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: An important class of active labor market policy has received little rigorous impact evaluation: immigration barriers intended to improve the terms of employment for domestic workers by deliberately shrinking the workforce. Recent advances in the theory of endogenous technical change suggest that such policies could have limited or even perverse labor market effects, but empirical tests are scarce. We study a natural experiment that excluded almost half a million Mexican ‘bracero’ seasonal agricultural workers from the United States, with the stated goal of raising wages and employment for domestic farm workers. We build a simple model to clarify how the labor market effects of bracero exclusion depend on assumptions about production technology, and test it by collecting novel archival data on the bracero program that allow us to measure state-level exposure to exclusion for the first time. We reject the wage effect of bracero exclusion required by the model in the absence of induced technical change, and fail to reject the hypothesis that exclusion had no eect on US agricultural wages or employment. Important mechanisms for this result include both adoption of less labor-intensive technologies and shifts in crop mix.
  • Topic: Labor Issues, Immigration, Financial Markets
  • Political Geography: Mexico
  • Author: Nora Lustig
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper presents results on the impact of fiscal policy on inequality and poverty in sixteen Latin American countries around 2010. The countries that redistribute the most are Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica and Uruguay, and the least, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru. At higher social spending, greater redistribution is achieved, but countries with a similar level of social spending show different levels of redistribution which suggests that other factors such as the composition and targeting of the expenditures are involved in determining the redistributive effect beyond its size. Fiscal policy reduces extreme poverty in twelve countries. However, the incidence of poverty after taxes, subsidies and monetary transfers is higher than the pre-fisc poverty rate in Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, even when fiscal policy does reduce inequality. Expenditure on pre-school and primary education is equalizing and pro-poor in all countries. Spending on secondary education is equalizing in all countries and also pro-poor in some countries but not all. Expenditure on tertiary education is never pro-poor, but it is equalizing, with the exception of Guatemala, where it is regressive and unequalizing and in Venezuela, where its redistributive effect is zero. Health spending is always equalizing but it is pro-poor only in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Poverty, Capitalism, Income Inequality
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall, Liliana Rojas-Suarez, Anna Diofasi
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Despite increasing volatility in the global economy, the uptake of the IMF’s two precautionary credit lines, the Flexible Credit Line (FCL) and the Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL), has remained limited—currently to just four countries. The two new lending instruments were created in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008 to enable IMF member states to respond quickly and effectively to temporary balance of payment needs resulting from external shocks. Both credit lines offer immediate access to considerable sums—over 10 times a country’s IMF quota in some cases with no (FCL) or very limited (PLL) conditionality. This paper addresses four misconceptions (or ‘myths’) that have likely played a role in the limited utilization of the two precautionary credit lines: 1) too stringent qualification criteria that limit country eligibility; 2) insufficient IMF resources; 3) high costs of precautionary borrowing; and 4) the economic stigma associated with IMF assistance. We show, in fact, that the pool of eligible member states is likely to be seven to eight times larger than the number of current users; that with the 2016 quota reform IMF resources are more than adequate to support a larger precautionary portfolio; that the two IMF credit lines are among the least costly and most advantageous instruments for liquidity support countries have; and that there is no evidence of negative market developments for countries now participating in the precautionary lines.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nora Lustig
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Current policy discussion focuses primarily on the power of fiscal policy to reduce inequality. Yet, comparable fiscal incidence analysis for 28 low and middle income countries reveals that, although fiscal systems are always equalizing, that is not always true for poverty. In Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Nicaragua, and Guatemala the extreme poverty headcount ratio is higher after taxes and transfers (excluding in-kind transfers) than before. In addition, to varying degrees, in all countries a portion of the poor are net payers into the fiscal system and are thus impoverished by the fiscal system. Consumption taxes are the main culprits of fiscally-induced impoverishment. Net direct taxes are always equalizing and indirect taxes net of subsidies are equalizing in nineteen countries of the 28. While spending on pre-school and primary school is pro-poor (i.e., the per capita transfer declines with income) in almost all countries, pro-poor secondary school spending is less prevalent, and tertiary education spending tends to be progressive only in relative terms (i.e., equalizing but not pro-poor). Health spending is always equalizing but not always pro-poor. More unequal countries devote more resources to redistributive spending and appear to redistribute more. The latter, however, is not a robust result across specifications.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ali Enami, Nora Lustig, Rodrigo Aranda
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper provides a theoretical foundation for analyzing the redistributive effect of taxes and transfers for the case in which the ranking of individuals by pre-fiscal income remains unchanged. We show that in a world with more than a single fiscal instrument, the simple rule that progressive taxes or transfers are always equalizing not necessarily holds, and offer alternative rules that survive a theoretical scrutiny. In particular, we show that the sign of the marginal contribution unambiguously predicts whether a tax or a transfer is equalizing or not.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus