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  • Author: Nora Lustig, Timothy Smeeding, Sean Higgins, Whitney Ruble
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We perform the first comprehensive fiscal incidence analyses in Brazil and the US, including direct cash and food transfers, targeted housing and heating subsidies, public spending on education and health, and personal income, payroll, corporate income, property, and expenditure taxes. In both countries, primary spending is close to 40 percent of GDP. The US achieves higher redistribution through direct taxes and transfers, primarily due to underutilization of the personal income tax in Brazil and the fact that Brazil's highly progressive cash and food transfer programs are small while larger transfer programs are less progressive. However, when health and non-tertiary education spending are added to income using the government cost approach, the two countries achieve similar levels of redistribution. This result may be a reflection of better-off households in Brazil opting out of public services due to quality concerns rather than a result of government effort to make spending more equitable.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Monetary Policy, Food
  • Political Geography: United States, Brazil
  • Author: Nora Lustig, Luis F. Lopez-Calva, Eduardo Ortiz-Juarez
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Between 2000 and 2010, the Gini coefficient declined in 13 of 17 Latin American countries. The decline was statistically significant and robust to changes in the time interval, inequality measures, and data sources. In-depth country studies for Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico suggest two main phenomena underlie this trend: a fall in the premium to skilled labor and more progressive government transfers. The fall in the premium to skills resulted from a combination of supply, demand, and institutional factors. Their relative importance depends on the country.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Poverty, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Argentina, Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Nora Lustig
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We apply a standard tax-and-benefit-incidence analysis to estimate the impact on inequality and poverty of direct taxes, indirect taxes and subsidies, and social spending (cash and food transfers and in-kind transfers in education and health). The extent of inequality reduction induced by direct taxes and transfers is rather small (2 percentage points on average), especially when compared with that found in Western Europe (15 percentage points on average). What prevents Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil from achieving similar reductions in inequality is not the lack of revenues but the fact that they spend less on cash transfers—especially transfers that are progressive in absolute terms—as a share of GDP. Indirect taxes result in that net contributors to the fiscal system start at the fourth, third, and even second decile on average, depending on the country. When in-kind transfers in education and health are added, however, the bottom six deciles are net recipients. The impact of transfers on inequality and poverty reduction could be higher if spending on direct cash transfers that are progressive in absolute terms were increased, leakages to the nonpoor reduced, and coverage of the extreme poor by direct transfer programs expanded.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Education, Health, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Argentina, Latin America, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia
  • Author: Francis Fukuyama, Nancy Birdsall
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: A clear shift in the development agenda is underway. Traditionally, an agenda generated in the developed world was implemented in—and, indeed, often imposed on—the developing world. The United States, Europe, and Japan will continue to be significant sources of economic resources and ideas, but the emerging markets will become significant players. Countries such as Brazil, China, India, and South Africa will be both donors and recipients of resources for development and of best practices for how to use them. In fact, development has never been something that the rich bestowed on the poor but rather something the poor achieved for themselves. It appears that the Western powers are finally waking up to this truth in light of a financial crisis that, for them, is by no means over.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Poverty, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe, India, South Africa, Brazil
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian, Aaditya Mattoo
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper documents an unusual and possibly significant phenomenon: the export of skills, embodied in goods, services or capital from poorer to richer countries. We first present a set of stylized facts. Using a measure which combines the sophistication of a country's exports with the average income level of destination countries, we show that the performance of a number of developing countries, notably China, Mexico and South Africa, matches that of much more advanced countries, such as Japan, Spain and USA. Creating a new combined dataset on FDI (covering greenfield investment as well as mergers and acquisitions) we show that flows of FDI to OECD countries from developing countries like Brazil, India, Malaysia and South Africa as a share of their GDP, are as large as flows from countries like Japan, Korea and the US. Then, taking the work of Hausmann et al (2007) as a point of departure, we suggest that it is not just the composition of exports but their destination that matters. In both cross-sectional and panel regressions, with a range of controls, we find that a measure of uphill flows of sophisticated goods is significantly associated with better growth performance. These results suggest the need for a deeper analysis of whether development benefits might derive not from deifying comparative advantage but from defying it.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Malaysia, India, South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Korea
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian, Aaditya Mattoo, Dominique van der Mensbrugghe, Jianwu He
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Most economic analyses of climate change have focused on the aggregate impact on countries of mitigation actions. We depart first in disaggregating the impact by sector, focusing particularly on manufacturing output and exports because of the potential growth consequences. Second, we decompose the impact of an agreement on emissions reductions into three components: the change in the price of carbon due to each country's emission cuts per se; the further change in this price due to emissions tradability; and the changes due to any international transfers (private and public). Manufacturing output and exports in low carbon intensity countries such as Brazil are not adversely affected. In contrast, in high carbon intensity countries, such as China and India, even a modest agreement depresses manufacturing output by 6-7 percent and manufacturing exports by 9-11 percent. The increase in the carbon price induced by emissions tradability hurts manufacturing output most while the Dutch disease effects of transfers hurt exports most. If the growth costs of these structural changes are judged to be substantial, the current policy consensus, which favors emissions tradability (on efficiency grounds) supplemented with financial transfers (on equity grounds), needs re-consideration.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: China, India, Brazil
  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Before the global economic crisis began in 2008, all countries in Latin America, long known as the world's most economically and financially volatile region, had experienced five consecutive years of economic growth, a feat that had not been achieved since the 1970s. Yet despite this growth, Latin America's incomeper-capita gap relative to high-income countries and other emerging-market economies widened, and poverty remained stubbornly high. Latin America, in short, suffered from growing pains even when things were going reasonably well.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Colombia, Latin America, Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru
  • Author: Lant Pritchett, Amer Hasan, Deon Filmer
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Millennium Development Goal for primary schooling completion has focused attention on a measurable output indicator to monitor increases in schooling in poor countries. We argue the next step, which moves towards the even more important Millennium Learning Goal, is to monitor outcomes of learning achievement. We demonstrate that even in countries meeting the MDG of primary completion, the majority of youth are not reaching even minimal competency levels, let alone the competencies demanded in a globalized environment. Even though Brazil is on track to the meet the MDG, our estimates are that 78 percent of Brazilian youth lack even minimally adequate competencies in mathematics and 96 percent do not reach what we posit as a reasonable global standard of adequacy. Mexico has reached the MDG—but 50 percent of youth are not minimally competent in math and 91 percent do not reach a global standard. While nearly all countries' education systems are expanding quantitatively nearly all are failing in their fundamental purpose. Policymakers, educators and citizens need to focus on the real target of schooling: adequately equipping their nation's youth for full participation as adults in economic, political and social roles. A goal of school completion alone is an increasingly inadequate guide for action. With a Millennium Learning Goal, progress of the education system will be judged on the outcomes of the system: the assessed mastery of the desired competencies of an entire age cohort—both those in school and out of school. By focusing on the learning achievement of all children in a cohort an MLG eliminates the false dichotomy between “access/enrollment” and “quality of those in school”: reaching an MLG depends on both.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics, Education
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Mexico