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- Trade Restrictions in Food Markets Create Greater Instability in International Food Prices
- The Two Poverty Enlightenments: Historical Insights from Digitized Books
- Meeting Goals of Biofuel Expansion Will Affect Land Use and Food Supply
- Classroom Age Variance Affects Student Achievement
- Larger and Broader Reforms Are More Effective in Stimulating New Firm Registrations
- International Investment Portfolios Could Be More Diverse for U.S. Mutual Funds
- Two Proposals to Re-invigorate Liberalization in Trade in Services and Regulatory Reform
- More Urban Poverty in Smaller Towns Than in Large Cities
- Private Inspection Programs Do Facilitate Trade
- Announcement: ABCDE 2011 Call for Proposals
- From the Blogs
- List of New Policy Research Working Papers
In an effort to protect domestic markets, governments often alter their restrictions on imports or exports in response to large fluctuations in international food prices. Ironically, those policy responses -- by exporters and importers alike -- leave both trade volumes and domestic prices unchanged, while adding to the instability of the international market, according to a new working paper by Kym Anderson and Signe Nelgen. For example, when prices spike, exporters often impose export restrictions, which clearly have beggar-thy-neighbor effects when supplies are low. But food importers, by reducing import barriers, contribute further to the spike in international food prices. Both responses exacerbate high costs for food importers while making food exporting countries better off by raising international food prices further. They may also worsen, rather than reduce, poverty, despite claims to the contrary. The authors reach these conclusions after analyzing government behavior related to food staples, whose prices spiked three times over the past four decades. The study uses annual estimates of agricultural price distortions in 75 countries since 1955. To ease the spikes, the paper suggests that the World Trade Organization membership introduce disciplines on export restrictions for when prices surge sharply, and negotiate lower import tariff ceilings to make it more difficult for food importers to increase import restrictions when prices drop sharply.
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 5511
The Two Poverty Enlightenments: Historical Insights from Digitized Books
Word searches of Google's library of digitized books suggest that two Poverty Enlightenments have occurred since 1700, one near the end of the 18th century and the other 200 years later, according to a new working paper by Martin Ravallion. The historical literature suggests that only the second enlightenment came with a widespread belief that poverty could, and should, be eliminated. After the first Poverty Enlightenment, references to "poverty" as a percentage of all words declined until 1960, after which a striking resurgence of interest occurred. That came with rising attention to economics and more frequent references to poverty policies. Developing countries also became more prominent in the literature
. Both enlightenments came with greater attention to human rights. The written record reflects the push back against government intervention, as well as the retreat from leftist economics and politics since the late 1970s. Although many debates from 200 years ago continue today, there is little evidence that the modern revival of the classical 19th century views on the limitations of government has come with a repeat of the complacency about poverty that was common back then.
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 5549
Meeting Goals of Biofuel Expansion Will Affect Land Use and Food Supply
More than 40 countries have set mandates and voluntary targets to produce and use more biofuels, which, if fully implemented, would more than triple the global market share of biofuels by 2020, according to a new working paper by Govinda R. Timilsina, John C. Beghin, Dominique van der Mensbrugghe, and Simon Mevel. Based on a global macroeconomic model, the paper says the expansion would drive down global GDP, albeit slightly. But the impact varies across countries, ranging from quite positive (Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia, and Thailand) to quite negative (China and India). The expansion of biofuels would moderately reduce the food supply (by less than 5 percent in general), but it could significantly hurt developing regions such as India and Sub-Saharan Africa. Price increases would be especially large for sugar, corn and oil seeds, which serve as primary feedstocks for biofuels. The expansion could also cause notable drops in forest and pasture lands in some countries.
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 5513
Classroom Age Variance Affects Student Achievement
Developing countries often face teacher and classroom shortages while trying to achieve primary education for all, and it is common practice in poor countries to group students of different ages together in one grade level. But a new working paper by Liang Choon Wang shows that the practice harms student learning in mathematics and science. Drawing on school data from 14 developing countries, the author shows that a one-month increase in the student age standard deviation will lead to a reduction of about 0.03 standard deviation in test scores for fourth-grade math and science. A simulation shows that those scores go up by 0.1 standard deviation when only students of similar ages study together -- an effect equal to boosting per-student spending by about 26 percent. Given its low administrative cost, grouping students by age could be a useful tool to improve student learning.
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 5527
Larger and Broader Reforms Are More Effective in Stimulating New Firm RegistrationsWhat kinds of government reforms spur new business registration? It appears that only large reforms – those cutting costs, time or the number of registration procedures by at least 40 percent – can make a significant impact, according to a new working paper by Loera Klapper and Innessa Love. Reforms are even more effective if those targeting cost, time and other factors occur at the same time. In addition, it takes larger reforms for countries with weaker business environments to boost new business registration, maybe because formal registrations there come with fewer benefits, such as access to formal financial and labor markets. The authors draw on data covering 92 countries from 2004 to 2009 and the “Starting a Business” indicators from the “Doing Business Report.” These results suggest that small, incremental reforms are not as effective as larger, broader reforms in boosting the private sector.
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 5493
International Investment Portfolios Could Be More Diverse for U.S. Mutual Funds Although global investment opportunities abound, U.S. equity mutual funds often invest in only about 100 stocks each, a surprisingly small number, according to a new working paper by Tatiana Didier, Roberto Rigobon and Sergio L. Schmukler. And as their options to invest overseas expand, mutual funds invest in fewer stocks and countries from a given region. This practice has costs: Funds could gain more from diversification, and countries and firms in need of foreign capital miss out. Indeed, mutual funds investing globally could achieve better risk-adjusted returns by including stocks already held by more specialized funds in the same parent company. The investment pattern seems to be determined by industry practices and organizational factors, such as competition among managers within the same fund family, rather than factors such as transaction costs and lack of information or instruments. The authors reach these conclusions after analyzing a micro dataset of portfolio holdings of U.S. mutual funds.
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 5524
Two Proposals to Re-invigorate Liberalization in Trade in Services and Regulatory Reform
Trade in services remains one of the stickiest issues in Doha trade negotiations, and even the best offers from members are too restrictive to create new market openings. In a new working paper, Bernard Hoekman and Aaditya Mattoo propose two ways to help liberalize trade in services and boost regulatory reform. The first encourages governments to set up forums, or "services knowledge platforms," where regulators, trade officials and stakeholders come together to discuss reform. That would help identify priorities and opportunities for using "aid for trade" resources to create the conditions for more open markets. The second proposal calls for a new type of negotiation in the World Trade Organization, in which major service producers agree to lock in existing levels of openness and commit in advance to policy reforms in foreign direct investment and international movement for individual service providers. These are the two areas where current policy is most restrictive and potential benefits from liberalization are the greatest.
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 5517
More Urban Poverty in Smaller Towns Than in Large Cities
Despite well-publicized poverty in the developing world's mega cities, most of the urban poor live in smaller towns, according to a new working paper by Céline Ferré, Francisco H.G. Ferreira and Peter Lanjouw. The research, based on an analysis of poverty maps produced for eight developing countries, shows that the poverty rate and city size often run in opposite directions. That is compounded by the fact that smaller towns often offer people less access to basic infrastructure services, such as electricity, heating, gas, sewerage, and solid waste disposal. In the case of Mexico, the authors also show that child nutritional outcomes are worse in small towns than in large cities.
One might think poverty in large cities should get special attention because of the marked contrasts between slums and non-slums. But that's not the case in the authors' case study of Morocco: inequality there doesn't appear to be governed by a stark divide between slums and non-slums. To be sure, the eight countries included in this study are not a representative sample of the developing world, but they do reflect all six regions where the World Bank operates.
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 5508
Private Inspection Programs Do Facilitate Trade
Private inspections of international shipments can boost import volumes by 2 to 10 percent, according to a new working paper by Irina Velea, Olivier Cadot and John S. Wilson. This finding is important because previous studies found little evidence that such programs, a half-century old practice, improved tariff revenue collection or reduced corruption at the border.
Drawing on data covering 179 importing countries and 170 exporting countries from 1980 to 2005, the authors say the burdens of inspection and paperwork appear to be more than offset by better trade facilitation at destination ports. Indeed, an increasing number of destination inspection programs, which target unloaded cargo at destination ports, have adopted new technology for inspections, such as scanners, container tracking systems and electronic payment of duties. The spread of information-control systems in international trade may improve logistics and thereby facilitate, rather than hamper, transit.
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 5515
ABCDE 2011 Call for Proposals: Deadline March 15
Researchers are invited to submit proposals to host a parallel session at the Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics 2011 (ABCDE), to be held May 30 to June 3 in Paris. These sessions, designed to feature diverse views on current development challenges, should be in tune with the conference's overall theme, "Broadening Opportunities for Development." They may, for example, draw attention to challenges in particular regions, or highlight the policy implications of particular areas of research.
Session organizers are encouraged to ensure a balance of perspectives in the panels. For sessions that are accepted, the conference will help fund the participation of speakers from developing countries (no more than two speakers per session). The proposal form should be completed based on the guidelines and submitted by March 15. Each proposal will be reviewed by the ABCDE steering committee, and the organizers of selected proposals will be notified no later than March 30. If you have any questions, contact Leita Jones at Ljones2@worldbank.org.
FROM THE BLOGS
The Haves and the Have-Nots (Economix blog, The New York Times)
"I had a review this weekend about ‘The Haves and the Have-Nots,’ a new book by the World Bank economist Branko Milanovic about inequality around the world. … As Mr. Milanovic writes:
One's income thus crucially depends on citizenship, which in turn means (in a world of rather low international migration) place of birth. All people born in rich countries thus receive a location premium or a location rent; all those born in poor countries get a location penalty. It is easy to see that in such a world, most of one's lifetime income will be determined at birth."
Read the entire post by post by Catherine Rampell | Read a World Bank feature story about the book, as well as related working papers by Branko Milanovic, a lead economist at the Bank’s Development Research Group
Do Informed Citizens Hold Governments Accountable? It Depends... (Governance for Development blog, World Bank)
"We are increasingly—and more openly than ever—grappling with what to do about the problems of politics and government accountability. Much emphasis and faith seem to be placed on the role of information and transparency. Using information interventions to enable civil society to hold their governments accountable seems so eminently sensible that it's become an end in and of itself, an "already known" and ticked box. Is it?
Community radio in Africa, for example, has been supported as a particularly powerful vehicle to inform and enable the poorest citizens; yet surprisingly, we have no real evidence about its impact on government accountability for public services. That is, until now."
Read the entire post by by Stuti Khemani, senior economist in the World Bank’s Development Research Group.
Could easier access to AIDS treatment increase risky sexual behaviors?(Let's Talk Development Blog, World Bank)
“By the end of 2009, an estimated 5.2 million people in low- and middle-income countries received antiretroviral therapy (ART). In sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 37% [34%–40%] of people eligible for treatment had access to those life-saving medicines (UNAIDS 2010). This is an extraordinary achievement, considering that as recently as 2003, relatively few people living with HIV/AIDS had access to ART in Africa. The scaling-up of ART in Africa and other regions has saved the lives of countless people and we hope will continue to do so.
At the same time, access to HIV/AIDS treatment might have transformed the perception of AIDS from a death sentence to a manageable, chronic condition, not necessarily different from any other chronic disease. Such a change in perception could lead to change in sexual behaviors. If AIDS is not perceived as a killer disease anymore, it might induce complacency and increase risky behaviors and the mixing between higher- and lower-risk groups in the population. That ’s what has been described as the “disinhibition” hypothesis. …
In a recent working paper we test the disinhibition hypothesis using data that we collected in Mozambique. We find suggestive evidence that easier access to antiretroviral therapy can lead to more risky sexual behaviors. We reach that conclusion by drawing on Mozambique household panel data, which cover both randomly-selected, HIV-positive individuals and the general population in 2007 and 2008. ”
Read the post co-authored by Damien de Walque, senior economist in the World Bank’s Development Research Group; Harounan Kazianga, assistant professor of economics at the Spears School of Business, Oklahoma State University; and Mead Over, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development | Read their working paper Antiretroviral Therapy Awareness and Risky Sexual Behaviors: Evidence from Mozambique
NEW POLICY RESEARCH WORKING PAPERS
5551. Design and Implementation of Environmental Performance Rating and Public Disclosure Programs: A Summary of Issues and Recommendations Based on Experiences in East Asian Countries by Elisea G. Gozun, Benoit Laplante, and Hua Wang
5552. Services Liberalization in Preferential Trade Arrangements: The Case of Kenya by Edward J. Balistreri and David G. Tarr
5553. Agriculture and Development: A Brief Review of the Literature by Jean-Jacques Dethier and Alexandra Effenberger
5554. Mapping Vulnerability to Climate Change by Rasmus Heltberg and Misha Bonch-Osmolovskiy
5555. The Impacts of Climate Variability on Welfare in Rural Mexico by Emmanuel Skoufias, Katja Vinha, and Hector V. Conroy
5556. The Wage Effects of Immigration and Emigration by Frederic Docquier, Caglar Ozden, and Giovanni Peri
5557. Emigration and Democracy by Frwderic Docquier, Elisabetta Lodigiani, Hillel Rapoport, and Maurice Schiff
5558. Impact of Migration on Economic and Social Development: A Review of Evidence and Emerging Issues by Dilip Ratha, Sanket Mohapatra, and Elina Scheja
5559. Mass Media and Public Services: The Effects of Radio Access on Public Education in Benin by Philip Keefer and Stuti Khemani
5560. The Possibility of a Rice Green Revolution in Large-scale Irrigation Schemes in Sub-Saharan Africa by Yuko Nakano, Ibrahim Bamba, Aliou Diagne, Keijiro Otsuka, and Kei Kajisa
5563. How Business Is Done and the 'Doing Business' Indicators: The Investment Climate When Firms Have Climate Control by Mary Hallward-Driemeier, Lant Pritchett
5564. How Do Governments Respond after Catastrophes? Natural-Disaster Shocks and the Fiscal Stance by Martin Melecky and Claudio Raddatz
5565. Why Does Cargo Spend Weeks in African Ports? The Case of Douala, Cameroon by Salim Refas and Thomas Cantens
5567. The Highway Concession System in Italy: History, Regulation and Politics by Nicola Limodio
5568. Designing Climate Change Adaptation Policies: An Economic Framework by Stephane Hallegatte, Franck Lecocq, and Christian de Perthuis
5569. Sudden Stops: Are Global and Local Investors Alike? by Cesar Calderon and Megumi Kubota
5570. Related Lending and Banking Development by Robert Cull, Stephen Haber, and Masami Imai
5571. Gender and Finance in Sub-Saharan Africa: Are Women Disadvantaged? by Reyes Aterido, Thorsten Beck, and Leonardo Iacovone
5572. What Drives the Development of the Insurance Sector? An Empirical Analysis Based on a Panel of Developed and Developing Countries by Erik Feyen, Rodney Lester, and Roberto Rocha
5573. Does Management Matter? Evidence from India by Nicholas Bloom, Benn Eifert, Aprajit Mahajan, David McKenzie, and John Roberts
5574. Life Satisfaction and Income Inequality by Paolo Verme
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