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  • Author: Michael Clemens, Ethan Lewis, Hannah Postel
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: An important class of active labor market policy has received little rigorous impact evaluation: immigration barriers intended to improve the terms of employment for domestic workers by deliberately shrinking the workforce. Recent advances in the theory of endogenous technical change suggest that such policies could have limited or even perverse labor market effects, but empirical tests are scarce. We study a natural experiment that excluded almost half a million Mexican ‘bracero’ seasonal agricultural workers from the United States, with the stated goal of raising wages and employment for domestic farm workers. We build a simple model to clarify how the labor market effects of bracero exclusion depend on assumptions about production technology, and test it by collecting novel archival data on the bracero program that allow us to measure state-level exposure to exclusion for the first time. We reject the wage effect of bracero exclusion required by the model in the absence of induced technical change, and fail to reject the hypothesis that exclusion had no eect on US agricultural wages or employment. Important mechanisms for this result include both adoption of less labor-intensive technologies and shifts in crop mix.
  • Topic: Labor Issues, Immigration, Financial Markets
  • Political Geography: Mexico
  • Author: Nora Lustig
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper presents results on the impact of fiscal policy on inequality and poverty in sixteen Latin American countries around 2010. The countries that redistribute the most are Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica and Uruguay, and the least, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru. At higher social spending, greater redistribution is achieved, but countries with a similar level of social spending show different levels of redistribution which suggests that other factors such as the composition and targeting of the expenditures are involved in determining the redistributive effect beyond its size. Fiscal policy reduces extreme poverty in twelve countries. However, the incidence of poverty after taxes, subsidies and monetary transfers is higher than the pre-fisc poverty rate in Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, even when fiscal policy does reduce inequality. Expenditure on pre-school and primary education is equalizing and pro-poor in all countries. Spending on secondary education is equalizing in all countries and also pro-poor in some countries but not all. Expenditure on tertiary education is never pro-poor, but it is equalizing, with the exception of Guatemala, where it is regressive and unequalizing and in Venezuela, where its redistributive effect is zero. Health spending is always equalizing but it is pro-poor only in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Poverty, Capitalism, Income Inequality
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall, Liliana Rojas-Suarez, Anna Diofasi
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Despite increasing volatility in the global economy, the uptake of the IMF’s two precautionary credit lines, the Flexible Credit Line (FCL) and the Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL), has remained limited—currently to just four countries. The two new lending instruments were created in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008 to enable IMF member states to respond quickly and effectively to temporary balance of payment needs resulting from external shocks. Both credit lines offer immediate access to considerable sums—over 10 times a country’s IMF quota in some cases with no (FCL) or very limited (PLL) conditionality. This paper addresses four misconceptions (or ‘myths’) that have likely played a role in the limited utilization of the two precautionary credit lines: 1) too stringent qualification criteria that limit country eligibility; 2) insufficient IMF resources; 3) high costs of precautionary borrowing; and 4) the economic stigma associated with IMF assistance. We show, in fact, that the pool of eligible member states is likely to be seven to eight times larger than the number of current users; that with the 2016 quota reform IMF resources are more than adequate to support a larger precautionary portfolio; that the two IMF credit lines are among the least costly and most advantageous instruments for liquidity support countries have; and that there is no evidence of negative market developments for countries now participating in the precautionary lines.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nora Lustig
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Current policy discussion focuses primarily on the power of fiscal policy to reduce inequality. Yet, comparable fiscal incidence analysis for 28 low and middle income countries reveals that, although fiscal systems are always equalizing, that is not always true for poverty. In Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Nicaragua, and Guatemala the extreme poverty headcount ratio is higher after taxes and transfers (excluding in-kind transfers) than before. In addition, to varying degrees, in all countries a portion of the poor are net payers into the fiscal system and are thus impoverished by the fiscal system. Consumption taxes are the main culprits of fiscally-induced impoverishment. Net direct taxes are always equalizing and indirect taxes net of subsidies are equalizing in nineteen countries of the 28. While spending on pre-school and primary school is pro-poor (i.e., the per capita transfer declines with income) in almost all countries, pro-poor secondary school spending is less prevalent, and tertiary education spending tends to be progressive only in relative terms (i.e., equalizing but not pro-poor). Health spending is always equalizing but not always pro-poor. More unequal countries devote more resources to redistributive spending and appear to redistribute more. The latter, however, is not a robust result across specifications.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ali Enami, Nora Lustig, Rodrigo Aranda
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper provides a theoretical foundation for analyzing the redistributive effect of taxes and transfers for the case in which the ranking of individuals by pre-fiscal income remains unchanged. We show that in a world with more than a single fiscal instrument, the simple rule that progressive taxes or transfers are always equalizing not necessarily holds, and offer alternative rules that survive a theoretical scrutiny. In particular, we show that the sign of the marginal contribution unambiguously predicts whether a tax or a transfer is equalizing or not.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nora Lustig, Margarita Beneke, José Andrés Oliva
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We conducted a fiscal impact study to estimate the effect of taxes, social spending, and subsidies on inequality and poverty in El Salvador, using the methodology of the Commitment to Equity project. Taxes are progressive, but given their volume, their impact is limited. Direct transfers are concentrated on poor households, but their budget is small so their effect is limited; a significant portion of the subsidies goes to households in the upper income deciles, so although their budget is greater, their impact is low. The component that has the greatest effect on inequality is spending on education and health. Therefore, the impact of fiscal policy is limited and low when compared with other countries with a similar level of per capita income. There is room for improvement using current resources.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Poverty, Income Inequality
  • Political Geography: El Salvador
  • Author: Mikkel Barslund, Matthias Busse
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The British economy has always been able to rely on a continuous inflow of high-skilled workers from the rest of the EU and the UK is currently home to over three million EU citizens and. As a result of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, however, the image of the UK in the eyes of foreign workers may have become tarnished. By using LinkedIn data, the authors of this study analyse the movements of IT professionals between the EU and the UK and thereby illustrate what is at stake for the UK, as exemplified by this particular ‘shortage sector’. LinkedIn data show that on an annual basis the UK gains over 6,000 IT experts more than it loses to the EU. Moreover, these mobile IT professionals tend to be much more qualified than domestic IT experts are. This reliance on the EU for IT recruitment – one in ten new hires comes from the EU – suggests that even if the UK is not aiming to restrict high-skilled immigration, curbing overall immigration could have unintended negative consequences for its capability to attract talented EU nationals in the future. The UK government should perhaps bear this in mind during negotiations with the EU27.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Daniel Gros
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Exiting from unconventional monetary policies is now a key issue for central banks, and especially for the US Federal Reserve. This paper argues that the Fed already began this exit some time ago, and that the relevant part of its balance sheet has already shrunk by about one-quarter of GDP. Pursuing the current policy of reinvesting would lead to a full exit within ten years.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Raphaëlle Mathieu-Bédard
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: Indigenous peoples and minorities throughout the world have endeavoured for centuries to rid themselves from colonialism and oppression, while governments struggle to recognize indigenous and minority rights and minorities’ rightful standing in society. Varied approaches have been adopted, with varying degrees of success – but much can be learned from past and current victories and mistakes. Both in Canada and in the United States, the federal governments have historically held exclusive and virtually unlimited authority over their indigenous populations. Yet, based on divergent interpretations of the ‘doctrine of discovery’, the two countries have long developed differing policies regarding the self-government of their indigenous[i] nations, inevitably influencing their respective indigenous self-determination movements and the emergence of indigenous, non-territorial institutions.
  • Topic: Minorities, International Development
  • Political Geography: America, Canada
  • Author: Alexander Osipov, Hanna Vasilevich
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: This text discusses the structure and content of diversity policy in the so-called Transnistrian Moldovan Republic (TMR), an unrecognized state that broke away from Moldova during the collapse of the Soviet Union. The case of Transnistria is particularly useful as an example for analyzing the origins, structure, contents and effects of the post-Soviet ethno-cultural policy in a comparative perspective. Moreover, the model of Transnistrian state- and nation-building, since it is not explicitly based on privileging a core ethnicity, differs from nearly all countries and de facto states of the post-communist space. The working paper describes the TMR normative framework pertinent to the management of ethnic and linguistic diversity and analyzes the patterns of its implementation. The authors analyze the reasons why ethnic diversity has never been a challenge to the Transnistrian statehood and its stability while different ethnicities and languages are treated differently. The Transnistrian phenomenon is also considered from the perspective of the effectiveness and efficiency of post-Soviet diversity policies.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Soviet Union