Better information to improve service delivery: New evidence
Let’s Talk Development blog, 3 August 2017
Countries around the world have experimented with “school report cards”: providing parents with information about the quality of their school so that they can demand higher quality service for their children. The results have been mixed. Andrabi, Das, and Khwaja bring a significant contribution to that literature in last month’s American Economic Review with their article using data from Pakistan, “Report Cards: The Impact of Providing School and Child Test Scores on Educational Markets.”
Read the blog by David Evans.
Supporting data for development: applications open for a new innovation fund
The Data Blog, 1 August 2017
Applications are now open for the second round of a new data innovation fund which was announced last month at the UN’s High Level Political Forum. The fund will invest up to $2.5 million in Collaborative Data Innovations for Sustainable Development - ideas to improve the production, management and use of data in poor countries. This year the fund’s thematic areas are “Leave No One Behind” and the environment.
Details on eligibility, criteria and how to apply are here: bit.ly/wb-gpsdd-innovationfund-2017 The initiative is supported by the World Bank’s Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building (TFSCB) with financing from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Government of Korea and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland. DFID is the largest contributor to the TFSCB.
Read the blog by Haishan Fu.
A new answer to why developing country firms are so small, and how cellphones solve this problem
Development Impact blog, 24 July 2017
Much of my research over the past decade or so has tried to help answer the question of why there are so many small firms in developing countries that don’t ever grow to the point of adding many workers. We’ve tried giving firms grants, loans, business training, formalization assistance, and wage subsidies, and found that, while these can increase sales and profits, none of them get many firms to grow.
Read the blog by David McKenzie.
Teachers’ salaries: Too many bucks for the bang?
Future Development blog, 21 July 2017
Despite an influential view that countries should increase teachers’ wages sufficiently to be able to attract top college graduates to the profession, the available evidence from the U.S. suggests that that’s the wrong advice. Key research studies show that this is wrong for low-income countries as well. If anything, when it comes to teachers in developing countries, there are already too many bucks for the bang.
Read the blog by Jishnu Das.
Spending on bling: What explains the demand for status goods?
Let’s Talk Development blog, 19 July 2017
When people spend money, their decisions are often influenced by the desire to signal wealth and attain social status. This insight is not entirely new — even Adam Smith, in the Wealth of Nations, complains that his contemporaries spend too much on “status goods” that are not a necessity of life, and which they most likely can’t afford.
Social signaling motives in consumption seem to be present in many different economic settings, and may in fact be so widespread that they can be linked to larger economic phenomena, such as inequality and persistent poverty. Studies using household surveys show, for example, that the poor around the world spend a strikingly large share of their income on visible expenditures, which may have negative implications for asset accumulation, household indebtedness, and investments in education. The same pattern has been shown to hold for ethnic minorities in the Unites States — so much so, that a recent study argues that differences in conspicuous consumption may account for as much as one third of the wealth gap between Whites and African Americans.
So, where does the demand for social status, expressed through consumption choices, come from? In a recent study, we conducted a series of field experiments to explore the psychological factors that explain status signaling behavior in consumption.
Read the blog by Martin Kanz.
Let’s Talk Development blog, 17 July 2017
Regionalism can have three dimensions: trade integration, regulatory cooperation and infrastructural coordination. In a thought provoking blog, Shanta Devarajan argues for a drastic shift in focus, away from trade and towards infrastructure.
Regional trade agreements do sometimes divert not just trade but attention from other beneficial forms of cooperation. And what type of integration makes economic and political sense, in what sequence, differs across regions. But it would be wrong to exclude trade, to focus only on one dimension, and to ignore important new constraints and old questions.
Read the blog by Aaditya Mattoo.
Water Get Enemy: A graphic novel on governance
Governance for Development blog, 13 July 2017
This blog post is part of a series for the 'Bureaucracy Lab', a World Bank initiative to better understand the world's public officials.
“Why? Why do we always fail the people of this country?” So reflects the public official who plays the hero in my graphic novel on governance in the developing world. The story, set in fictional Zanzarim, follows the struggles of the ‘Director’ up to that point, as he labours to implement policy that will help his fellow citizens. His exhausting — and frequently unsuccessful — attempts to succeed mirror the many such struggles I have witnessed in the governments of developing countries across the world.
Read the blog by Daniel Rogger.
The power of information in improving school performance
VoxEU blog, 26 July 2017
Giving parents information on the performance of schools in Pakistan improved test scores and enrolment, and reduced the cost of private school tuition.
Providing information to citizens can improve services for the poor, swiftly and at relatively low cost. That, encouragingly, is the lesson emerging from recent experiments in Uganda (Björkman and Svensson 2009), India (Banerjee et al. 2011), and Indonesia (Banerjee et al. 2015) as well as observational research in the US (Hoxby 2000) in sectors as diverse as health, voting behaviour, access to subsidised food and education.
Buoyed by these positive results, we were interested in investigating the impact of information (specifically, school and child report cards) on education markets, but with a two-fold twist (Andrabi et al. 2013). First, we work in an environment where there are both public and private schools; the latter receive no subsidies and face little (if any) de facto regulation in terms of prices or standards setting. Second, we were interested in what would happen if we intervened in an entire market, rather than a subset of consumers within the market.
Read the blog by Tahir Andrabi, Jishnu Das, and Asim Ijaz Khwaja.