This research program spans the full gamut of human development — education, health, labor markets, and social protection. It examines the performance of the sectors in terms of levels and inequalities in utilization, quality and outcomes, as well as methods for improving performance, whether aimed at households, service providers, politicians and policymakers, or donors. More »
On average, government health expenditure emerges as significantly pro-rich, but it varies. In the majority, government health expenditure is neither pro-rich nor pro-poor, while in a small minority it is pro-rich, and in an even smaller minority it is pro-poor. Working Paper 7044 »
This paper summarizes 13 country case studies and five technical reviews, which were conducted as part of the development of a global framework for monitoring progress towards Universal Health Coverage. Journal Article »
February 2014 - The unmet demand for work is the single most important policy-relevant factor in accounting for the gap between actual performance and the scheme’s potential impact on poverty. Report »
We examine differential progress on health Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) between the poor and the better off within countries. Our findings are based on an original analysis of 235 DHS and MICS surveys spanning 64 developing countries over the 1990–2011 period. We track five health status indicators and seven intervention indicators from all four health MDGs. In approximately three-quarters of countries, the poorest 40 percent have made faster progress than the richest 60 percent on MDG intervention indicators.
While many find cause for optimism about the use of law and rights for progressive ends, the academic literature has long been skeptical that courts favor the poor. We show that, with the move toward a robust “new constitutionalism” of social and economic rights, the assumptions underlying the skepticism do not always hold. Our theories must account for variation in the elite bias of law and litigation.
How much economic mobility is there across generations in a poor, primarily rural, economy? How much do intergenerational linkages contribute to current inequality? We address these questions using original survey data on Senegal that include a sub-household measure of consumption for cells within the household.
Transactional Sex as Risk-Coping Behavior Damien de Walque, William H. Dow, and Erick Gong, Summer 2014 Transactional sex rises after shocks, suggesting that access to insuranceor savings may have public health implications
Stratified randomization and the FIFA World Cup Damien de Walque, June 2014 When I start working on a new impact evaluation, I often begin with a workshop in the country where the study will be conducted. The workshop brings together government officials, both at the central level and from the regions and provinces where the intervention will take place, other stakeholders such as NGOs or other UN organizations, and representatives of the research institution that will implement the survey. Part of the workshop is devoted to teaching or refreshing memories about evaluation techniques.
Jishnu and Shanta Talk Transfers Shanta Devarajan and Jishnu Das, January 2014 Shanta: Jishnu, your blog post and mine on cash transfers generated a lot of comments. Some people argued that giving poor people cash will not “work” because they will spend it on consumption rather than on their children’s education, which is something we care about. What do you have to say to that?
Is Workfare Really Cost-Effective? Rinku Murgai, Martin Ravallion, and Dominique van de Walle, Research Brief, Winter 2014 With participants’ forgone earnings factored in, workfare may be less cost-effective against poverty than other options
Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa January 2014 - The report examines obstacles faced by households and firms in meeting the youth employment challenge. It focuses primarily on productivity, in agriculture, in nonfarm household enterprises (HEs), and in the modern wage sector, because productivity is the key to higher earnings as well as to more stable, less vulnerable, livelihoods. To respond to the policy makers' dilemma, the report identifies specific areas where government intervention can reduce those obstacles to productivity for households and firms, leading to brighter employment prospects for youth, their parents, and their own children. Order | Download
Risking Your Health: Causes, Consequences, and Interventions to Prevent Risky Behaviors November 2013 – Individuals all over the worlds engage in behaviors that are risky for their health: smoking, drugs, alcohol, unhealthy food, and risky sexual encounters. They increasingly affect the health of individual and their populations. This report examines the causes, consequences and interventions to prevent these growing threats. Order | Download
The Elderly and Old Age Support in Rural China March 2012 - This book examines projected demographic changes that will affect the economic well-being of China’s rural elderly over the next 20 years, taking into account both China’s sharp demographic transition and the continued migration of young adults to cities. The projected old age dependency ratio of 34 percent in China’s rural areas by 2030 suggests that support of the elderly is likely to be an increasing burden on China’s families.
How Useful is Inequality of Opportunity as a Policy Construct? Ravi Kanbu and Adam Wagstaff The academic literature on equality of opportunity has burgeoned. The concepts and measures have begun to be used by policy institutions, including in specific sectors such as health and education. It is argued that one advantage of focusing on equality of opportunity is that policy makers are more responsive to that discourse than to equality of outcomes per se. This paper presents a critique of equality of opportunity in the policy context. Working Paper 6980, July 2014
Radio’s Impact on Preferences for Patronage Benefits Philip Keefer and Stuti Khemani Citizens in developing countries support politicians who provide patronage or clientelist benefits, such as government jobs and gifts at the time of elections. Can access to mass media that broadcasts public interest messages shift citizens' preferences for such benefits? This paper examines the impact of community radio on responses to novel survey vignettes that make an explicit trade-off between political promises of jobs for a few versus public services for all. The impact of community radio is identified through a natural experiment in the media market in northern Benin, which yields exogenous variation in access across villages. Working Paper 6932, June 2014
World Bank Lending and the Quality of Economic Policy Lodewijk Smets, Stephen Knack Subsidized voluntary enrollment in government-run health insurance schemes is often proposed as a way of increasing coverage among informal sector workers and their families. This paper reports the results of a cluster randomized control trial in which 3,000 households in 20 communes in Vietnam were randomly assigned at baseline to a control group or one of three treatments: an information leaflet about Vietnam’s government-run scheme and the benefits of health insurance; a voucher entitling eligible household members to 25 percent off their annual premium; and both. Working Paper 6924, June 2014
Encouraging Health Insurance for the Informal Sector: A Cluster Randomized Trial Adam Wagstaff, Ha Thi Hong Nguyen, Huyen Dao, Sarah Bales Subsidized voluntary enrollment in government-run health insurance schemes is often proposed as a way of increasing coverage among informal sector workers and their families. This paper reports the results of a cluster randomized control trial in which 3,000 households in 20 communes in Vietnam were randomly assigned at baseline to a control group or one of three treatments: an information leaflet about Vietnam’s government-run scheme and the benefits of health insurance; a voucher entitling eligible household members to 25 percent off their annual premium; and both. Working Paper 6910, June 2014