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  • Author: Michael Clemens
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: ‘Guest workers’ earn higher wages overseas on temporary low-skill employment visas. This wage gap can be used to measure gaps in the productivity of workers due to where they are, not who they are. This paper estimates the effects of guest work on Indian applicants to a construction job in the United Arab Emirates, where an economic crisis allocated guest work opportunities as-good-as-randomly among several thousand families. Guest work raised the return to poor families' labor by a factor of four, with little evidence of systematic fraud.
  • Topic: Migration, Labor Issues, Migrant Workers, Guest Workers
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: Maryam Akmal, Lant Pritchett
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for education include the goal that “all youth...achieve literacy and numeracy” (Target 4.6). Achieving some absolute standard of learning for all children is a key element of global equity in education. Using the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) data from India and Pakistan, and Uwezo data from Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda that test all children of given ages, whether in school or not, on simple measures of learning in math, reading (local language), and English, we quantify the role of achieving equality between the richest 20% and the poorest 40% in terms of grade attainment and learning achievement toward accomplishing the global equity goal of universal numeracy and literacy for all children. First, excluding Kenya, equalizing grade attainment between children from rich and poor households would only close between 8% (India) and 25% (Pakistan) of the gap to universal numeracy, and between 8% (Uganda) and 28% (Pakistan) of the gap to universal literacy. Second, children from the poorest 40% of households tend to have lower performance in literacy and numeracy at each grade. If such children had the learning profiles of children from rich households, we would close between 16% (Pakistan and Uganda) and 34% (India) of the gap to universal numeracy, and between 13% (Uganda) and 44% (India) of the gap to universal literacy. This shows that the “hidden exclusion” (WDR, 2018) of lower learning at the same grade levels—a gap that emerges in the earliest grades—is a substantial and often larger part of the equity gap compared to the more widely documented gaps in enrollment and grade attainment. Third, even with complete equality in grade attainment and learning achievement, children from poor households would be far from the equity goal of universal numeracy and literacy, as even children from the richest 20% of households are far from universal mastery of basic reading and math by ages 12-13. Achieving universal literacy and numeracy to accomplish even a minimal standard of global absolute equity will require more than just closing the rich-poor learning gap, it will take progress in learning for all.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Sustainable Development Goals, Language
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Kenya, Africa, Middle East, India, Asia, Tanzania
  • Author: Kalipso Chalkidou, Nishant Jain, Françoise Cluzeau, Amanda Glassman
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Hailed as one of the largest publicly funded health insurance programs in the world, India’s “Modicare” has, since its launch a little more than six months ago, made universal healthcare coverage an election theme for the first time in the country’s history.[1] In this note, we describe the program, with an emphasis on its better-known secondary and tertiary care component, and offer policy recommendations to strengthen the scheme post-election to enhance its contribution to India’s vision for universal health coverage (UHC). In a country of almost 1.4 billion people that is home to one-third of global maternal deaths, where public spending for health accounts for roughly 1 percent of GDP and where 60 million people fall into poverty every year because of healthcare bills, fixing healthcare is a daunting task that will determine the world’s performance against the Sustainable Development Goals over the coming decade.
  • Topic: Health, Health Care Policy, Public Health, Health Insurance
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: Alan Gelb, Anit Mukherjee
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Reforming inefficient and inequitable energy subsidies continues to be an important priority for policymakers as does instituting “green taxes” to reduce carbon emissions. Simply increasing energy prices will have adverse impact on poorer consumers, who may spend substantial budget shares on energy and energy-intensive products even though the rich typically appropriate more of the price subsidy. Equitable pricing reforms therefore need to be accompanied by programs to transfer compensation: depending on the situation, this can be targeted or universal. Successful reforms require measures to raise awareness-of the subsidies and the problems they cause, effective dissemination of the reform to the population, and rapid feedback loops to facilitate mid-course corrections. Digital technology, including for unique identification and payments, as well as general communications, can help build government capacity to undertake such reforms and respond to changes in fuel markets. The paper outlines the use of digital technology, drawing on four country cases. The technology is only a mechanism; it does not, in itself, create the political drive and constituency to push reform forward. However, it can be employed in a number of ways to increase the prospects for successful and sustainable reform.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Science and Technology, Reform, Digitalization
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, India, Latin America
  • Author: Lant Pritchett, Yamini Aiyar
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: There are two dominant narratives about taxation. In one, taxes are the “price we pay for a civilized society” (Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.). In this view taxes are not a necessary evil (as in the pairing of “death and taxes” as inevitable) but a positive good: more taxes buy more “civilization.” The other view is that taxes are “tribute to Leviathan”—a pure involuntary extraction from those engaged in economic production to those who control coercive power producing no reciprocal benefit. In this view taxes are a bane of the civilized. We consider the question of taxes as price versus tribute for contemporary India.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Governance, Budget
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Michael Clemens
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Skilled workers have a rising tendency to emigrate from developing countries, raising fears that their departure harms the poor. To mitigate such harm, researchers have proposed a variety of policies designed to tax or restrict high-skill migration. Those policies have been justified as Pigovian regulations to raise efficiency by internalizing externalities, and as non-Pigovian regulations grounded in equity or ethics. This paper challenges both sets of justifications, arguing that Pigovian regulations on skilled emigration are inefficient and non-Pigovian regulations are inequitable and unethical. It concludes by discussing a different class of policy intervention that, in contrast, has the potential to raise welfare.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Rights, Human Welfare, Immigration, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Lant Pritchett, Yamini Aiyar
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We combine newly created data on per student government expenditure on children in government elementary schools across India, data on per student expenditure by households on students attending private elementary schools, and the ASER measure of learning achievement of students in rural areas. The combination of these three sources allows us to compare both the “accounting cost” difference of public and private schools and also the “economic cost”—what it would take public schools, at their existing efficacy in producing learning, to achieve the learning results of the private sector. We estimate that the “accounting cost” per student in a government school in the median state in 2011/12 was Rs. 14,615 while the median child in private school cost Rs. 5,961. Hence in the typical Indian state, educating a student in government school costs more than twice as much than in private school, a gap of Rs. 7,906. Just these accounting cost gaps aggregated state by state suggests an annual excess of public over private cost of children enrolled in government schools of Rs. 50,000 crores (one crore=10 million) or .6 percent of GDP. But even that staggering estimate does not account for the observed learning differentials between public and private. We produce a measure of inefficiency that combines both the excess accounting cost and a money metric estimate of the cost of the inefficacy of lower learning achievement. This measure is the cost at which government schools would be predicted to reach the learning levels of the private sector. Combining the calculations of accounting cost differentials plus the cost of reaching the higher levels of learning observed in the private sector state by state (as both accounting cost differences and learning differences vary widely across states) implies that the excess cost of achieving the existing private learning levels at public sector costs is Rs. 232,000 crores (2.78% of GDP, or nearly US$50 billion). It might seem counterintuitive that the total loss to inefficiency is larger than the actual budget, but that is because the actual budget produces such low levels of learning at such high cost that when the loss from both higher expenditures and lower outputs are measured it exceeds expenditures.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Privatization, Reform
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: Amanda Glassman, Denizhan Duran, Rachel Silverman, Victoria Fan
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: More than ever, global health funding agencies must get better value for money from their investment portfolios; to do so, each agency must know the interventions it supports and the sub-populations targeted by those interventions in each country.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Economics, Health, Humanitarian Aid, Health Care Policy
  • Political Geography: India, Philippines, Ethiopia, Nigeria
  • Author: Victoria Fan, Anup Karan, Ajay Mahal
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In 2007, the state of Andhra Pradesh in southern India began rolling out the Aarogyasri health insurance to reduce catastrophic health expenditures in households “below the poverty line.” We exploit variation in program roll-out over time and districts to evaluate the impacts of the scheme using difference-in-differences. Our results suggest that, within the first year of implementation, Phase I of Aarogyasri significantly reduced out-of-pocket inpatient expenditures and, to a lesser extent, outpatient expenditures. These results are robust to checks using quantile regression and matching methods. No clear effects on catastrophic health expenditures or medical impoverishment are seen. Aarogyasri is not benefiting scheduled caste and scheduled tribe households as much as the rest of the population.
  • Topic: Health, Poverty, Health Care Policy
  • Political Geography: India, Asia, Andhra Pradesh
  • Author: Frances Zelazny
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: India has embarked on an ambitious new program to provide its citizens and residents a unique, official identity. The UID (Universal ID) program aims to improve the delivery of government services, reduce fraud and corruption, facilitate robust voting processes, and improve security. It is by far the largest application of biometric identification technology to date and will have far-reaching implications for other developing countries that are looking to adopt national ID programs to further social and economic development. This paper discusses the evolution of the UID program, the innovative organization and pathbreaking technology behind it, how it is being rolled out, and how robust ID is beginning to be used.
  • Topic: Corruption, Crime, Democratization, Development, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: India