nep-lam New Economics Papers
on Central and South America
Issue of 2020‒06‒29
three papers chosen by
Maximo Rossi
Universidad de la República

  1. Audits and the Quality of Government By Maximiliano Lauletta; Martín Rossi; Christian Ruzzier
  2. Urbanization in the Developing World: Too Early or Too Slow? By J. Vernon Henderson; Matthew A. Turner
  3. Religion in Economic History : A Survey By Becker, Sascha O.; Rubin, Jared; Woessmann, Ludger

  1. By: Maximiliano Lauletta (Department of Economics, University of California, Berkeley); Martín Rossi (Department of Economics, Universidad de San Andres); Christian Ruzzier (Department of Economics, Universidad de San Andres)
    Abstract: We exploit the well-documented random assignment of Brazilian municipalities to an audit program to explore the link between audits and the quality of government. We find that audited municipalities employ less labor to provide a given level of public services, and change the way in which they screen their employees—relying less on discretion and more on merit. These improvements in bureaucratic efficiency and professionalization imply an increase in the quality of municipal governments.
    Keywords: bureaucracy, corruption, audits, efficiency, public sector employment
    JEL: D73 D78 H11 H70 J45 O12
    Date: 2020–06
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:sad:wpaper:141&r=all
  2. By: J. Vernon Henderson; Matthew A. Turner
    Abstract: We describe patterns of urbanization in the developing world and the extent to which they differ from the developed world. We consider the extent to which urbanization in the developing world can be explained by conventional models of spatial equilibrium. Despite their relative poverty, developing world cities are relatively highly productive, and often provide good access to safe water, improved sanitation, schooling and inoculations. In some parts of the world, they are home to a surprisingly small number of factory workers and a surprisingly large number of farmers. Developing world cities seem to do less well at protecting their residents from lifestyle diseases and crime, their female residents from domestic violence and their children from illness. In thinking about these facts, we note that one strand of the literature focused on structural transformation has suggested that urbanization in the developing is occurring `too early’, while another strand argues that urbanization is occurring `too slow’ to be consistent with conventional models of spatial equilibrium. Despite many differences between developing and developed world cities, our new results combined with those in the literature suggest that models of spatial equilibrium can be adapted to be a useful guide to understanding the process of urbanization in the developing world.
    JEL: O18 R0 R11
    Date: 2020–05
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27201&r=all
  3. By: Becker, Sascha O. (Monash University, University of Warwick; CAGE; CEPR, CESifo, IZA, and ROA); Rubin, Jared (Chapman University); Woessmann, Ludger (University of Munich and ifo Institute; CESifo, IZA, and CAGE)
    Abstract: This chapter surveys the recent social science literature on religion in economic history, covering both socioeconomic causes and consequences of religion. Following the rapidly growing literature, it focuses on the three main monotheisms—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—and on the period up to WWII. Works on Judaism address Jewish occupational specialization, human capital, emancipation, and the causes and consequences of Jewish persecution. One set of papers on Christianity studies the role of the Catholic Church in European economic history since the medieval period. Taking advantage of newly digitized data and advanced econometric techniques, the voluminous literature on the Protestant Reformation studies its socioeconomic causes as well as its consequences for human capital, secularization, political change, technology diffusion, and social outcomes. Works on missionaries show that early access to Christian missions still has political, educational, and economic consequences in present-day Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Much of the economics of Islam focuses on the role that Islam and Islamic institutions played in political-economy outcomes and in the “long divergence” between the Middle East and Western Europe. Finally, cross-country analyses seek to understand the broader determinants of religious practice and its various effects across the world. We highlight three general insights that emerge from this literature. First, the monotheistic character of the Abrahamic religions facilitated a close historical interconnection of religion with political power and conflict. Second, human capital often played a leading role in the interconnection between religion and economic history. Third, many socioeconomic factors matter in the historical development of religions.
    Date: 2020
    URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:wrk:warwec:1273&r=all

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