Selected Working Papers by Thematic Area
Jobs and Economic Transformation
High levels of inequality reduce the income growth of the poor and, if anything, help the income growth of the rich. The paper uses micro-census data from U.S. states from 1960 to 2010 to assess the impact of overall inequality, as well as inequality among the poor and among the rich, on the growth rates along various percentiles of the income distribution.
Africa will be undergoing substantial demographic changes in the coming decades with the rising working-age share of its population. The opportunity of African countries to convert these changes into demographic dividends for growth and poverty reduction will depend on several factors.
Differences in management quality are an important contributor to productivity differences across countries. A key question is how best to improve poor management in developing countries. This paper tests two approaches to improving management in Colombian auto parts firms.
By 2015, 2.5 million Syrians fleeing war found refuge in Turkey, making it the largest refugee-hosting country worldwide. Syrian refugees are overwhelmingly employed informally, since they were not issued work permits, making their arrival a well-defined supply shock to informal labor.
This paper examines the links between adverse events, depression, and decision making in Nigeria. It investigates how events such as conflicts, shocks, and deaths can affect short-term perceptions of welfare, as well as longer-term decisions on economic activities and human capital investments.
A study of criminally-engaged Liberian men found that self-control, time preferences, and values are malleable in adults. Investments in these skills and preferences reduce crime and violence.
This paper critically reviews existing energy demand forecasting methodologies, highlighting the methodological diversity and development over the past four decades to investigate whether the existing energy demand models are appropriate for capturing the specific features of developing countries.
Solar energy has experienced phenomenal growth in recent years due to technological improvements resulting in cost reductions and government policies that are supportive of renewable energy development and utilization. This study analyzes the technical, economic, and policy aspects of solar energy development and deployment.
The Amazon rainforest represents a global public good, of which 15 percent has already been lost. The worldwide value of preserving the remaining forest is unknown. A "Delphi" exercise was conducted involving more than 200 environmental valuation experts from 36 countries, who were asked to predict the outcome of a survey to elicit willingness to pay for Amazon forest preservation among their own countries' populations.
The evidence base needed by a government to decide how to design a new conditional cash transfer program is severely limited in several critical dimensions. This paper presents one-year schooling impacts from a conditional cash transfer experiment among teenage girls and young women in Malawi.
This paper uses measures of cognitive and noncognitive skills in an expanded definition of human capital to examine how schooling and skills differ between men and women and how those differences relate to gender gaps in earnings across nine middle-income countries.
This paper argues that at the root of current gender inequalities, there are traditional patriarchal social structures in which power is unequally distributed, with men traditionally holding authority over women. The power imbalance is manifested in governance arrangements, of which the paper considers discriminatory formal laws and adverse gender norms that perpetuate gender inequality.
This paper finds that project outcomes vary much more within countries than between countries. Among the macro variables, country growth and the policy environment are significantly positively correlated with project outcomes. Among the micro variables, shorter project duration and the presence of additional financing are significantly correlated with better project outcomes.
How does policy change in real polities, in terms of policy design and implementation? How is this shaped by the underlying nature of business-state relations and the overall political settlement in a country? This paper explores the political economy of telecommunications in three middle-income countries – Mexico, South Africa, and Turkey.
Better information helps to curb customs fraud, but its effectiveness appears to be compromised by corruption. This paper examines how providing better information to customs inspectors and monitoring their actions affects tax revenue and fraud detection in Madagascar.
Cross-Cutting Issues: Debt and Financial Fragility, Human Capital, Disability, and Technology
The financial crisis that hit the world economy in 2008–09 transformed the lives of many individuals and families. The challenge for policy makers is to incorporate the lessons from the failures to take into consideration the complex linkages between financial, fiscal, real, and social risks and ensure effective risk management at all levels of society.
Evidence from a range of different sources suggests that Chinese workers lost 20 million to 36 million jobs because of the global financial crisis. The paper reviews several available sources of evidence for the effects of the crisis and notes the biases associated with alternative ex post efforts to measure the employment effects of the crisis.
Using nonlinear methods, this paper finds that existing estimates of government spending multipliers in expansion and recession may yield biased results by ignoring whether government spending is increasing or decreasing.
Mobile phones and the internet have significantly affected practically all sectors of the economy, and agriculture is no exception. Building on a World Bank flagship report, this paper introduces a concise framework for describing the main benefits from new information and communications technologies.
Robots, Tasks and Trade (2018)
An increase in robot adoption in the North reduces the cost of production and thereby impacts trade in final and intermediate goods with the South. This paper examines the effects of robotization on trade patterns, wages, and welfare.
Following a couple of decades of offshoring, the fear today is of reshoring. Using administrative data on Mexican exports by municipality, sector, and destination from 2004 to 2014, this paper investigates how local labor markets in Mexico that are more exposed to automation in the United States through trade fared in exports and employment outcomes.
All over the world, people are prevented from participating fully in society through mechanisms that go beyond the structural and institutional barriers identified by rational choice theory. This essay discusses four additional mechanisms that bounded rationality can explain.
This literature review summarizes the link between psychological well-being and entrepreneurial outcomes for small and medium-size enterprises in fragile, conflict, and violence–affected contexts. It identifies potentially promising, scalable psychosocial training interventions that can be adapted and implemented to improve psychological health at the individual level, which could lead to better business performance at the firm level.
This paper looks at the structural marginalization of ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities in six pilot economies (Bulgaria, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Tanzania, and Vietnam) and proposes a new methodology for collecting cross-country comparable data on antidiscrimination legal frameworks.
Financial incentives are a promising HIV prevention strategy. This paper assesses the effect on HIV incidence of a lottery program in Lesotho with low expected payments but a chance to win a high prize conditional on negative test results for sexually transmitted infections.
Market-based accountability in the unregulated private sector may be providing better incentives for provider effort than administrative accountability in the public sector in this setting. This paper presents direct evidence on the quality of health care in low-income settings using a unique and original set of audit studies.
Inequality of opportunity accounts for up to 35 percent of all disparities in educational achievement. This paper proposes two related measures of educational inequality: one for educational achievement and another for educational opportunity.