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  • Author: M. Chatib Basri, Mayara Felix, Rema Hanna, Benjamin A. Olken
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Developing countries collect a far lower share of GDP in taxes than richer countries. This paper asks whether changes in tax administration and tax rates can nevertheless raise substantial additional revenue – and if so, which approach is most effective. We study corporate taxation in Indonesia, where the government implemented two reforms that differentially affected firms. First, we show that increasing tax administration intensity by moving the top firms in each region into “Medium-Sized Taxpayer Offices,” with much higher staff-to-taxpayer ratios, more than doubled tax revenue from affected firms over six years, with increasing impacts over time. Second, using non-linear changes to the corporate income tax schedule, we estimate an elasticity of taxable income of 0.59, which implies that the revenue-maximizing rate is almost double the current rate. The increased revenue from improvements in tax administration is equivalent to raising the marginal corporate tax rate on affected firms by about 23 percentage points. We suggest one reason improved tax administration was so effective was that it flattened the relationship between firm size and enforcement, removing the additional “enforcement tax” on large firms. On net, our results suggest that improving tax administration can have significant returns for developing country governments.
  • Topic: Governance, Developing World, Reform, Business , Tax Systems
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Mark H. Moore
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is one of a series of working papers from “RISE"—the large-scale education systems research programme supported by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Governance, Developing World
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Dani Rodrik
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: In a world economy that is highly integrated, most policies produce effects across the border. This is often believed to be an argument for greater global governance, but the logic requires scrutiny. There remains strong revealed demand for policy and institutional diversity among nations, rooted in differences in historical, cultural, or development trajectories. The canonical case for global governance is based on two set of circumstances. The first occurs when there is global public good (GPG) and the second under “beggar-thy-neighbor” (BTN) policies. However, the world economy is not a global commons, and virtually no economic policy has the nature of a global public good (or bad). And while there are some important BTN policies, much of our current discussions deal with policies that are not true BTNs. The policy failures that exist arise not from weaknesses of global governance, but from distortions of domestic governance. As a general rule, these domestic failures cannot be fixed through international agreements or multilateral cooperation. The paper closes by discussing an alternative model of global governance called “democracy-enhancing global governance.”
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Governance, Global Political Economy, Trade Wars
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, Global Markets
  • Author: Katherine Baicker, Theodore Svoronos
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Given the complex relationships between patients’ demographics, underlying health needs, and outcomes, establishing the causal effects of health policy and delivery interventions on health outcomes is often empirically challenging. The single interrupted time series (SITS) design has become a popular evaluation method in contexts where a randomized controlled trial is not feasible. In this paper, we formalize the structure and assumptions underlying the single ITS design and show that it is significantly more vulnerable to confounding than is often acknowledged and, as a result, can produce misleading results. We illustrate this empirically using the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, showing that an evaluation using a single interrupted time series design instead of the randomized controlled trial would have produced large and statistically significant results of the wrong sign. We discuss the pitfalls of the SITS design, and suggest circumstances in which it is and is not likely to be reliable.
  • Topic: Health, Governance, Health Care Policy
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Masoomeh Khandan, Lant Pritchett
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: A long-standing literature in the sociology of organizations (e.g., DiMaggio and Powell 1983) suggests that, as change agents face uncertainty about actions and outcomes, they often seek legitimacy through isomorphism: adopting structures, policies and reforms similar (at least in appearance) to those deemed successful elsewhere. We examine history’s most rapid reduction of fertility—from 8.4 in 1985 to 2.4 in 2002, in rural Iran—as an example of successful autonomous reform. The Iranian state, which was self-consciously cut off from nearly all of the traditional vectors of global isomorphism, initiated a successful behavioral change in a domain (family planning) perhaps unexpected for an Islamic state. We describe and explain the Iranian approach, in particular the rural program, contrasting it with the global strategy of adopting universal "best practices."
  • Topic: Governance, Health Care Policy, Reform, Public Policy
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Valeriya Mechkova, Anna Lührmann, Staffan I. Lindberg
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Accountability is one of the cornerstones of good governance. Establishing accountable governments is a top priority on the international development agenda. Yet, scholars and democracy practitioners know little about how accountability mechanisms develop and thus can be supported by international and national actors. The present study tackles the questions of how, and in what sequence accountability sub-types develop. We consider not only vertical (elections and political parties) and horizontal accountability (legislature, judiciary and other oversight bodies), but also diagonal accountability (civil society and media) in both their de-jure and the de-facto dimensions. By utilizing novel sequencing methods, we study their sequential relationships in 173 countries from 1900 to the present with data from the new V-Dem dataset. Considering the long-term dimensions of institution building, this study indicates that most aspects of de-facto vertical accountability precede other forms of accountability. Effective institutions of horizontal accountability – such as vigorous parliaments and independent high courts – evolve rather late in the sequence and build on progress in many other areas.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Matt Andrews, Stuart Russell, Cristina Barrios
  • Publication Date: 07-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Previous papers such as Russell, Barrios & Andrews (2016), Guerra (2016), and Russell, Tokman, Barrios & Andrews (2016) have aimed to provide an empirical view into the sports economy. This proves to be a difficult task, given the many definitions of ‘sports’ and data deficiencies and differences in the sports domain (between contexts and over time). The emerging view in these previous papers provides interesting information about the sports sector, however: it shows, for instance, that different contexts have differently intensive sports sectors, and that sports activities overlap with other parts of the economy. This kind of information is useful for policymakers in governments trying to promote sports activities and use sports to advance the cause of broad-based social and economic development. This paper is written with these policymakers in mind. It intends to offer a guide such agents can use in constructing sports policies focused on achieving development goals (what we call development through sports[1]), and discusses ways in which these policymakers can employ empirical evidence to inform such policies. The paper draws on the concept of ‘governance’ to structure its discussion. Taking a principal-agent approach to the topic, governance is used here to refer to the exercise of authority, by one set of agents, on behalf of another set of agents, to achieve specific objectives. Building on such a definition, the paper looks at the way governmental bodies engage in sports when acting to further the interests of citizens, most notably using political and executive authority to promote social and economic development. This focus on governance for development through sports (asking why and how governments use authority to promote sports for broader social and economic development objectives[2]) is different from governance of sports (which focuses on how governments and other bodies exercise authority to control and manage sports activities themselves), which others explore in detail but we will not discuss.[3] The paper has five main sections. A first section defines what we mean by ‘governance’ in the context of this study. It describes an ends-means approach to the topic—where we emphasize understanding the goals of governance policy (or governance ends) and then thinking about the ways governments try to achieve such goals (the governance means). The discussion concludes by asking what the governance ends and means are in a development through sports agenda. The question is expanded to ask whether one can use empirical evidence to reflect on such ends and means. One sees this, for instance, in the use of 'governance indicators' and 'governance dashboards' in the international development domain. A second section details the research method we used to address these questions. This mixed method approach started by building case studies of sports policy interventions in various national and sub-national governments to obtain a perspective on what these policies tend to involve (across space and time). It then expanded into an analysis of sports policies in a broad set of national and sub-national governments to identify common development through sport ends and means. Finally, it involved experimentation with selected data sources to show how the ends and means might be presented in indicators and dashboards—to offer evidence-based windows into development through sports policy regimes. Based on this research, sections three and four discuss the governance ends and means commonly pursued and employed by governments in this kind of policy process. The sections identify three common ends (or goals)—inclusion, economic growth, and health—and a host of common means—like the provision of sports facilities, organized activities, training support, financial incentives, and more—used in fostering a development through sports agenda. Data are used from local authorities in England to show the difficulties of building indicators reflecting such policy agendas, but also to illustrate the potential value of evidence-based dashboards of these policy regimes. It needs to be stated that this work is more descriptive than analytical, showing how data can be used to provide an evidence-based perspective on this domain rather than formally testing hypotheses about the relationship between specific policy means and ends. In this regard, the work is more indicative of potential applications rather than prescriptive. A conclusion summarizes the discussion and presents a model for a potential dashboard of governance in a development through sports policy agenda.
  • Topic: Development, Governance, Sports, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, England
  • Author: Aleksandra Maatsch
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: This paper investigates how the intergovernmental reform process of European economic governance affected national parliaments’ oversight of this policy area. Which parliaments became disempowered and which managed to secure their formal powers – and why? The dependent variable of the study is operationalized as the presence or absence of “emergency legislation” allowing governments to accelerate the legislative process and minimize the risk of a default by constraining national parliaments’ powers. The paper examines how national parliaments in all eurozone states were involved in approving the following measures: the EFSF (establishment and increase of budgetary capacity), the ESM, and the Fiscal Compact. The findings demonstrate that whereas northern European parliaments’ powers were secured (or in some cases even fostered), southern European parliaments were disempowered due to the following factors: (i) domestic constitutional set-up permitting emergency legislation, (ii) national supreme or constitutional courts’ consent to extensive application of emergency legislation, and (iii) international economic and political pressure on governments to prevent default of the legislative process. Due to significant power asymmetries, national parliaments remained de jure but not de facto equal in the exercise of their control powers at the EU level. As a consequence, both the disempowerment of particular parliaments and the asymmetry of powers among them has had a negative effect on the legitimacy of European economic governance.
  • Topic: Politics, Governance, Law, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Alex He
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: This paper explores China’s perspectives and practices in its quest for overseas energy supply security and its participation in international energy cooperation since becoming a net oil import country in 1993. It compares the traditional approach, in which China mainly focuses on bilateral means to pursue its overseas energy supply security, and the new concept of energy security, in which greater involvement in global energy governance, in particular in the Group of Twenty (G20), is highlighted to promote China’s energy security. The paper argues that China still retains a bilateral and regional cooperation approach, while making progress in developing closer cooperation with existing major global energy governing institutions. The One Belt, One Road strategy proposed in 2013 is regarded as a strengthened version of the bilateral and regional cooperation approach. Chinese academic circles constitute the main forces advocating China’s more positive participation in global energy governance. The G20 provides significant institutional arrangements to coordinate big powers to govern the international energy markets and to address climate change. This paper suggests that, given China’s growing prominence at the G20, it could be the proper platform for the country to play a more active role in global energy governance.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Oil, Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Governance, G20
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Emily Taylor
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The Internet enables the free flow of information on an unprecedented scale but to an increasing extent the management of individuals’ fundamental rights, such as privacy and the mediation of free expression, is being left in the hands of private actors. The popularity of a few web platforms across the globe confers on the providers both great power and heavy responsibilities. Free-to-use web platforms are founded on the sale of user data, and the standard terms give providers rights to intrude on every aspect of a user’s online life, while giving users the Hobson’s choice of either agreeing to those terms or not using the platform (the illusion of consent). Meanwhile, the same companies are steadily assuming responsibility for monitoring and censoring harmful content, either as a self-regulatory response to prevent conflicts with national regulatory environments, or to address inaction by states, which bear primary duty for upholding human rights. There is an underlying tension for those companies between self-regulation, on the one hand, and being held accountable for rights violations by states, on the other hand. The incongruity of this position might explain the secrecy surrounding the human systems that companies have developed to monitor content (the illusion of automation). Psychological experiments and opaque algorithms for defining what search results or friends’ updates users see highlight the power of today’s providers over their publics (the illusion of neutrality). Solutions could include provision of paid alternatives, more sophisticated definition and handling of different types of data — public, private, ephemeral, lasting — and the cooperation of all stakeholders in arriving at realistic and robust processes for content moderation that comply with the rule of law.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, Human Welfare, Science and Technology, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus