nep-dev New Economics Papers
on Development
Issue of 2018‒05‒14
eleven papers chosen by
Jacob A. Jordaan
Universiteit Utrecht

  1. Guaranteed Employment or Guaranteed Income? By Martin Ravallion
  2. Will the Poor in Nigeria Escape Poverty in Their Lifetime? By Zuhumnan Dapel
  3. Firm and Market Response to Saving Constraints: Evidence from the Kenyan Dairy Industry By Casaburi, Lorenzo; Macchiavello, Rocco
  4. Impact of delivering iron-fortified salt through a school feeding program on child health, education and cognition: Evidence from a randomized controlled trial in rural India By Krämer, Marion; Kumar, Santosh; Vollmer, Sebastian
  5. Resilience thresholds to temperature shocks in rural Tanzania: a long-run assessment. By Marco d'Errico; Marco Letta; Pierluigi Montalbano; Rebecca Pietrelli
  6. Multidimensional Nation Wellbeing, More Equal yet More Polarized: An Analysis of the Progress of Human Development since 1990 By Gordon Anderson; Alessio Farcomeni; Maria Grazia Pittau; Roberto Zelli
  7. Social Accountability and Service Delivery: Experimental Evidence from Uganda By Nathan Fiala; Patrick Premand
  8. Diversity and Conflict By Cemal Eren Arbatli; Quamrul H. Ashraf; Oded Galor; Marc P. B. Klemp
  9. The multifaceted relationship between environmental risks and poverty: new insights from Vietnam By Narloch, Ulf; Bangalore, Mook
  10. The distributional impact of social spending in Peru By Gaentzsch, Anja
  11. The Road Not Taken: Gender Gaps along Paths to Political Power By Iyer, Lakshmi; Mani, Anandi

  1. By: Martin Ravallion (Georgetown University)
    Abstract: The paper critically reviews the arguments for and against both employment guarantees and income guarantees when viewed as rights-based policy instruments for poverty reduction in a developing economy, with special reference to India. Evidence on India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act does not suggest that the potential for either providing work when needed or reducing current poverty is being realized, despite pro-poor targeting. Instead, work is often rationed by local leaders in poor areas, and the poverty impact is small when all the costs are considered. Decentralized implementation of the right-to-work poses serious challenges in poor places. The option of income support using cash transfers also has both pros and cons. Widely-used methods for finely targeting cash transfers tend to miss many poor people, and discourage those reached from earning extra income. Yet it cannot be presumed that switching to a universal basic income will reduce poverty more than workfare or finely-targeted transfers; that is an empirical question and the answer will undoubtedly vary across settings, belying the generalizations often heard from advocates. Nonetheless, more incentive-neutral, universal and/or state-contingent transfer schemes merit consideration in settings in which existing public spending is skewed against poor people and/or there is scope for raising taxes on the rich.
    Keywords: Poverty, right to work, workfare, targeting, transfers, universal basic income
    JEL: H53 I38
    Date: 2018–04–30
  2. By: Zuhumnan Dapel (Center for Global Development)
    Abstract: Drawing on six sweeps of household surveys of Nigeria that together span 1980–2010 with a pooled sample size of about 97,000 households and data on Nigeria’s age-gender-specific life expectancy from the World Health Organization, this paper shows that about 72 percent to 91 percent of Nigeria’s poor are at risk of spending their entire life below the poverty line. To show this, I estimate the duration of poverty spells and link this to the average age of the poor and to the life expectancy. I find that the poor are expected to escape poverty at the age of 85.46 years on average. However, there is heterogeneity in the exit time, with the transient poor averaging 3–7 years below the poverty line and the chronically poor averaging 37 years or more. Given these exit times and life expectancy, the mean age of the poor at their expected time of escaping poverty exceeds the average life expectancy, meaning some of the poor are not guaranteed to escape poverty in their remaining lifetime. The implication is that growth in Nigeria has not been sufficient nor has it demonstrated the potential to help the poor break free from poverty. However, like Brazil, Nigeria can significantly reduce poverty without absolute reliance on economic growth by reducing its high inflation rate and substantially expanding its social security and social assistance transfers.
    Keywords: Nigeria, Poverty, Growth, Life expectancy, duration of poverty spell
    Date: 2018–04–30
  3. By: Casaburi, Lorenzo (University of Zurich); Macchiavello, Rocco (London School of Economics)
    Abstract: Despite extensive evidence that preferences are often time-inconsistent, there is only scarce field evidence of willingness to pay for commitment. Infrequent payments may naturally provide commitment for lumpy expenses. Multiple experiments in the Kenyan dairy sector show that: i) farmers are willing to incur sizable costs to receive infrequent payments and demand for commitment is an important driver of this preference; ii) poor contract enforcement, however, limits competition among buyers in the supply of infrequent payments; iii) in such a market, the effects of price increases on sales depend on both buyer credibility and payment frequency. Infrequent payments are common in many goods and labor markets, but they may not be competitively offered when contracts are not enforceable.
    Keywords: Saving Constraints; Commitment; Agricultural Markets; Contract Enforcement; Interlinked Transactions. JEL Classification: O12, O16, D90, Q13.
    Date: 2018
  4. By: Krämer, Marion; Kumar, Santosh; Vollmer, Sebastian
    Abstract: We present experimental evidence on the impact of delivering double-fortified salt (DFS), salt fortified with iron and iodine, through the Indian school-feeding program called “midday meal” on anemia, cognition, and math and reading outcomes of primary school children. We conducted a field experiment that randomly provided one-year supply of DFS at a subsidized price to public primary schools in one of the poorest regions of India. The DFS treatment had significantly positive impacts on hemoglobin levels and reduced the prevalence of any form of anemia by 9.3 percentage points (or about 20 percent) but these health gains did not translate into statistically significant impacts on cognition and test scores. While exploring the heterogeneity in effects, we find that treatment had statistically significant gains in anemia and test scores among children with higher treatment compliance. We further estimate that the intervention was very cost effective and can potentially be scaled up rather easily.
    Keywords: Double-fortified salt,education,anemia,school feeding,India,randomized controlled trial
    JEL: C93 I1 O11
    Date: 2018
  5. By: Marco d'Errico (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations); Marco Letta (Department of Economics and Social Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome (IT).); Pierluigi Montalbano (Department of Economics and Social Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome (IT).); Rebecca Pietrelli (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
    Abstract: The study of household resilience is a key issue in development economics. This paper adds to the literature by exploring the role of resilience in mediating the relationship between food consumption growth and temperature shocks. To make up for the lack of long micro panels, we generate a synthetic panel for rural Tanzania covering the time span 2000 – 2013. Our main contribution is the identification of resilience thresholds below which households are unable to absorb the negative effects of temperature shocks. These thresholds have important implications for adaptation to climate change in developing countries and, more generally, significant consequences for policy-makers and intervention design.
    Keywords: Resilience thresholds, Food security, Household growth, Temperature shocks, Climate change.
    JEL: I32 O12 Q12 Q54
    Date: 2018–02
  6. By: Gordon Anderson; Alessio Farcomeni; Maria Grazia Pittau; Roberto Zelli
    Abstract: Mounting concern regarding inadequacies of per capita GDP or GNI as a source of nation wellbeing classi cation and comparison lead to the employment of multidimensional approaches with attendant concerns regarding their arbitrary and complex nature. Here, based upon commonalities in multidimensional behavior of nations, feasible, less arbitrary, classi cation methodologies and techniques for assessing wellbeing within and between groups are proposed. Implementation in a three dimensional study of 164 countries from 1990 to 2014 in a Human Development Index (HDI) framework reveals substantive multi-dimensional growth in a slowly evolving, relatively immobile three group world exhibiting simultaneous increases in equality and polarization with a growing Lower HD class and shrinking Middle and High HD classes.
    Keywords: Wellbeing, Human Development Index, Multi-dimensional Mixture Models, Class membership, Inequality, Polarization, Mobility.
    JEL: C14 I32 O1
    Date: 2018–05–04
  7. By: Nathan Fiala (University of Connecticut); Patrick Premand (World Bank)
    Abstract: Corruption and mismanagement of public resources can affect the quality of government services and undermine growth. Can citizens in poor communities be empowered to demand better-quality public investments? We look at whether providing social accountability training and information on project performance can lead to improvements in local development projects. The program we study is unique in its size and integration in a national program. We find that offering communities a combination of training and information on project quality leads to significant improvements in household welfare. However, providing either social accountability training or project quality information by itself has no welfare effect. These results are concentrated in areas that are reported by local officials as more corrupt or mismanaged, suggesting local agents have significant information about where corruption and mismanagement is worse. We show evidence that the impacts come in part from community members increasing their monitoring of local projects, making more complaints to local and central officials and increasing cooperation. We also find modest improvements in people’s trust in the central government. The results suggest that government-led, large-scale social accountability programs can strengthen communities’ ability to address corruption and mismanagement as well as improve services.
    Keywords: Social accountability; community training; scorecards; corruption; service delivery
    JEL: D7 H4 O1
    Date: 2018–04
  8. By: Cemal Eren Arbatli; Quamrul H. Ashraf; Oded Galor; Marc P. B. Klemp
    Abstract: This research advances the hypothesis and establishes empirically that interpersonal population diversity has contributed significantly to the emergence, prevalence, recurrence, and severity of intrasocietal conflicts. Exploiting an exogenous source of variations in population diversity across nations and ethnic groups, it demonstrates that population diversity, as determined predominantly during the exodus of humans from Africa tens of thousands of years ago, has contributed significantly to the risk and intensity of historical and contemporary internal conflicts, accounting for the confounding effects of geographical, institutional, and cultural characteristics, as well as for the level of economic development. These findings arguably reflect the adverse effect of population diversity on interpersonal trust, its contribution to divergence in preferences for public goods and redistributive policies, and its impact on the degree of fractionalization and polarization across ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups.
    Keywords: social conflict, population diversity, ethnic fractionalization, ethnic polarization, interpersonal trust, political preferences
    JEL: D74 N30 N40 O11 O43 Z13
    Date: 2018
  9. By: Narloch, Ulf; Bangalore, Mook
    Abstract: Despite complex interlinkages, insights into the multifaceted relationship between environmental risks and poverty can be gained through an analysis of different risks across space, time and scale within a single context using consistent methods. Combining geo-spatial data on eight environmental risks and household survey data from 2010–2014 for the case study of Vietnam, this paper shows: (i) at the district level, the incidence of poverty is higher in high risk areas, (ii) at the household level, poorer households face higher environmental risks, (iii) for some risks the relationship with household-level consumption varies between rural and urban areas, and (iv) environmental risks explain consumption differences between households, but less so changes over time. While altogether these analyses cannot establish a causal relationship between environmental risks and poverty, they do indicate that Vietnam's poor are disproportionally exposed. Given growing pressures due to climate change, addressing such risks should be a focus of poverty reduction efforts.
    Keywords: climate change; consumption; environment; livelihood; poverty; risks; vulnerability
    JEL: I3 I30 I32 O10 Q50 Q54 R20
    Date: 2018–04–05
  10. By: Gaentzsch, Anja
    Abstract: Peru has made great progress in reducing poverty and inequality in the past decade alongside high economic growth. Albeit this progress, the incidence of poverty and inequality remain high. This paper examines the distributional and poverty impact of the public tax and transfer system in Peru. It applies an extended income approach that accounts for the value of publicly-provided health, education and childcare services. Accounting for public services is important since unequal access to basic services is a main development challenge for low and middle income countries. We find that public social spending reduces overall inequality by almost 7 Gini points. This reduction is mainly driven by in-kind benefits while the impact of taxation and direct cash transfers is small. Income differentials within regions explain approximately four fifths of overall inequality compared to diffierences between regions, which explain about one fifth. This ratio remains largely unaffected by public redistribution. Mean levels of welfare vary widely across regions. This is also because social spending achieves litte poverty reduction. It decreases absolute poverty by 2-3 percentage points in terms of monetary income and up to 9 percentage points or 25% when accounting for public service use. The largest share of the poor, over 50%, are not reached by social assistance. To tackle poverty more effectively, transfer levels and coverage need to be increased. Current policies seem insuffcient to achieve a more equitable income distribution.
    Keywords: income distribution,poverty,social protection,public services,non-cash income,Peru
    JEL: D31 I30 H53 I38
    Date: 2018
  11. By: Iyer, Lakshmi (University of Notre Dame); Mani, Anandi (Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University)
    Abstract: Using an original survey conducted in India’s largest state, we offer systematic evidence on the gender gaps in a rich set of electoral and non-electoral participation metrics. We find that gender gaps in non-electoral forms of participation (such as involvement in public petitions, interactions with public officials and attendance of village meetings) are larger than those in election-related activities, including political candidacy. The gender gaps in political participation persist even after we account for women’s poorer knowledge of political institutions, self-assessment of leadership skills, literacy rates and asset ownership, as well as constraints on their mobility and voice in household decisions. Using an Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition approach, we find that bringing women’s attributes on par with men would bridge less than half the gender gap. This suggests that external factors, such as the role played by voters, parties or societal groups, may constitute important barriers to women’s political participation. The presence of a woman leader in the village increases women’s propensity to meet with government officials, but is not enough to close the gender gap. Our evidence points to the need to consider a wider set of policy tools beyond quotas to encourage women’s civic and political engagement.
    Keywords: political participation, civic engagement, gender gap, India, women leaders, gender quotas JEL Classification:
    Date: 2018

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