Search

You searched for: Content Type Working Paper Remove constraint Content Type: Working Paper Publishing Institution The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University Remove constraint Publishing Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University Publication Year within 5 Years Remove constraint Publication Year: within 5 Years Topic International Development Remove constraint Topic: International Development
Number of results to display per page

Search Results

  • Author: Anders Jensen
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This paper shows how the increase in information trails through the long-run transition from self-employment to employee-jobs explains the rise of the modern income tax system. I construct a new database which covers 100 household surveys across countries at different income levels and 140 years of historical data within the US (1870-2010). Using these data, I first establish four new stylized facts: 1) within country, the share of employees increases over the income distribution, and increases at all levels of income as a country develops; 2) the income tax exemption threshold moves down the income distribution as a country develops, tracking employee growth; 3) the employee share above the exemption threshold is maximized and remains constantly high; 4) decreases in the exemption threshold are strongly associated with increases in tax collection. These findings are consistent with a model where a high employee share is a necessary condition for effective taxation and where the rise in income covered by information trails through increases in employee share drives expansion of the income tax base. To provide a causal estimate of employee share on income tax systems, I study a state-led US development program implemented in the 1950s-60s which increased the level of employee share. The identification strategy exploits within-state changes in court-litigation status which generate quasi-experimental variation in the effective implementation date of the program. I find that the exogenous increase in employee share is associated with an expansion of the state income tax base and an increase in state income tax revenue.
  • Topic: Political Economy, Finance, Economy, International Development, Tax Systems
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: My recent research paper “India's GDP Mis-estimation: Likelihood, Magnitudes, Mechanisms, and Implications,” (hereafter “GDP paper”) and the associated op-ed in the Indian Express on June 11, 2019 have generated considerable debate. This is encouraging because serious argument and counter-argument are the basis for good policy-making. Since the issue itself is of great importance, the counter-arguments to my analysis warrant a considered response. That is the aim of this note, which is a complement to the original paper, addressing both the larger issues and some of the specific points that have been raised. The note is structured as follows. Section II describes my engagement with India’s GDP estimation when I was Chief Economic Adviser. Section III elaborates on the framework/approach underlying the GDP paper. Section IV makes explicit the key puzzle surrounding India’s growth estimates, and addresses the possible explanations for it. Section V explores the puzzle in greater detail. Section VI provides additional cross-country evidence on growth and price deflators, which support the findings of the original paper, namely that growth during 2011-16 was likely overestimated by a significant margin. Section VII addresses two broad objections to the main findings. Section VIII discusses some of the methodological critiques of the paper. Section IX offers some thoughts on the way forward.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, International Development, Economic Growth
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Michael Woolcock
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Many development agencies and governments now seek to engage directly with local communities, whether as a means to the realization of more familiar goals (infrastructure, healthcare, education) or as an end in itself (promoting greater inclusion, participation, well-being). These same agencies and governments, however, are also under increasing pressure to formally demonstrate that their actions ‘work’ and achieve their goals within relatively short timeframes – expectations which are, for the most part, necessary and desirable. But adequately assessing ‘community-driven’ approaches to development requires the deployment of theory and methods that accommodate their distinctive characteristics: building bridges is a qualitatively different task to building the rule of law and empowering minorities. Moreover, the ‘lessons’ inferred from average treatment effects derived from even the most rigorous assessments of community-driven interventions are likely to translate poorly to different contexts and scales of operation. Some guidance for anticipating and managing these conundrums are provided.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Infrastructure, International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Michael Woolcock
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Evaluations of development projects are conducted to assess their net effectiveness and, by extension, to guide decisions regarding the merits of scaling-up successful projects and/or replicating them elsewhere. The key characteristics of ‘complex’ interventions – numerous face- to-face interactions, high discretion, imposed obligations, pervasive unknowns – rarely fit neatly into standard evaluation protocols, requiring the deployment of a wider array of research methods, tools and theory. The careful use of such ‘mixed methods’ approaches is especially important for discerning the conditions under which ‘successful’ projects of all kinds might be expanded or adopted elsewhere. These claims, and the practical implications to which they give rise, draw on an array of recent evaluations in different sectors in development.
  • Topic: International Development, Humanitarian Intervention, Public Policy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael Woolcock
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: A defining task of development is enhancing a state’s capability for policy implementation. In most low- income countries, alas, such capabilities seem to be stagnant or declining, in no small part because dominant reform strategies are ill-suited to addressing complex non-technical aspects. This has been recognized for at least six decades – indeed, it was a centerpiece of Albert Hirschman’s understanding of the development process – yet this critique, and the significance of its implications, remain on the margins of scholarship and policy. Why? I consider three options, concluding that, paradoxically, followers of Hirschman’s approach inadequately appreciated that gaining more operational traction for their approach was itself a type of problem requiring their ideas to embark on ‘a long voyage of discovery’, a task best accomplished, in this instance, by building – and tapping into the distinctive insights of – a diverse community of development practitioners.
  • Topic: Development, Political Economy, Developing World, International Development
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ricardo Hausmann, Tim O'Brien, Miguel Angel Santos, Ana Grisanti, Semiray Kasoolu, Nikita Taniparti, Jorge Tapia, Ricardo Villasmil
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: In the decade 1999-2009, Jordan experienced an impressive growth acceleration, tripling its exports and increasing income per capita by 38%. Since then, a number of external shocks that include the Global Financial Crisis (2008-2009), the Arab Spring (2011), the Syrian Civil War (2011), and the emergence of the Islamic State (2014) have affected Jordan in significant ways and thrown its economy out of balance. Jordan’s debt-to-GDP ratio has ballooned from 55% (2009) to 94% (2018). The economy has continued to grow amidst massive fiscal adjustment and balance of payments constraints, but the large increase in population – by 50% between 2008 and 2017 – driven by massive waves of refugees has resulted in a 12% cumulative loss in income per capita (2010-2017). Moving forward, debt sustainability will require not only continued fiscal consolidation but also faster growth and international support to keep interest payments on the debt contained. We have developed an innovative framework to align Jordan’s growth strategy with its changing factor endowments. The framework incorporates service industries into an Economic Complexity analysis, utilizing the Dun and Bradstreet database, together with an evaluation of the evolution of Jordan’s comparative advantages over time. Combining several tools to identify critical constraints faced by sectors with the greatest potential, we have produced a roadmap with key elements of a strategy for Jordan to return to faster, more sustainable and more inclusive growth that is consistent with its emerging comparative advantages.
  • Topic: Labor Issues, Women, GDP, International Development, Economic Growth
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: Matt Andrews
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Observers claim that public policies fail ‘often’. This paper asks, ‘how often’? It is an important question, because public policies absorb resources to address major social issues. We should know if policies are proving bad social investments; routinely failing to solve focal problems at high costs. Unfortunately, it is not easy to assess this. Many public policy organizations—governments in particular—do not provide accessible views onto overall success or failure. The World Bank does, however, provide such view—and it supports policy interventions one finds in governments across the world. The paper thus examines World Bank failure rates. It finds that there are different answers to the ‘how often’ question, depending on responses to a second question, ‘what is failure anyway?’ In studying both questions, the paper identifies a bias in the World Bank—and probably all organizations adopting rational ‘plan and control’ policy processes—to measuring ‘project and product success’ rather than a broader view of success as ‘problems are solved with development impact’. This means that policy organizations like the Bank judge success based on whether planned products are delivered through an efficient process; not whether policies solve the problems that warranted intervention in the first place, or whether the policies promoted development outcomes. Is this how citizens would want their public policy organizations to conceptualize success?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, World Bank, International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Matt Andrews, Tim McNaught, Salimah Samji
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Governments across the world regularly pursue reforms that achieve less than was originally expected or is needed to make the state function better. The limits to reform success are often obvious in even the early days of reform, where gaps and weaknesses manifest. Many governments have no mechanisms built into their reform processes to see these gaps and weaknesses, however, and persist with predefined reform plans instead of adapting designs to close the gaps and address weaknesses. One antidote to this challenge is to create reflection points where reformers scrutinize their progress to identify weaknesses, reflect on these weaknesses, and adapt their next steps to address the weaknesses. In the spirit of John Kingdon’s work on ‘policy windows’, we call these reflection points ‘adaptation windows’—moments where reformers acknowledge problems in their reforms, adapt reforms to address such, and mobilize support for this adaptation. This paper discusses an effort to open an adaptation window for reformers to ‘see’ and then respond to public financial management (PFM) reform gaps and weaknesses in Mozambique. The paper details why and how this work was pursued, and also reflects on results of the government’s reflection at the adaptation window.
  • Topic: Government, Reform, International Development, State
  • Political Geography: Africa, Mozambique
  • Author: Stuart Russell, Carla Tokman, Douglas Barrios, Matt Andrews
  • Publication Date: 07-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: As described in Russell, Barrios & Andrews (2016), past attempts to understand the sports economy have been constrained by a number of data limitations. For instance, many of these accounts use revenues when value added measures would be more appropriate. Similarly, many accounts use top-down definitions that result in double counting and an inflated estimate of the size of the sports economy. More importantly, past accounts have focused most of their efforts estimating the overarching size of the sports economy. Constrained by aggregated data that groups a wide range of sports-related economic activities together, they primarily discuss the size of the sports-related economic activity. Their focus on answering the question of "How big?" conceals substantial differences between activities. Core sports activities, such as professional sports teams, behave very differently than activities, like sporting goods manufacturing that are closer to the periphery of the sports economy. Likewise, there are even important differences amongst core sports activities. Professional sports teams are very different than fitness facilities, and they might differ in different respects. Guerra (2016) demonstrates that, when detailed, disaggregated data are available, the possibilities to analyze and understand the sports are greatly increased. For instance, Guerra (2016) were able to conduct skills-based analyses, magnitude analyses, employment characterizations, geographic distribution analyses, and calculations of the intensity of sports activities. The sector disaggregation, spatial disaggregation, and database complementarity present in the Mexico data used in that paper therefore enables a more detailed and nuanced understanding of sports and sports-related economic activity. Data with characteristics similar to those found in Mexico are few and far between. We have, unfortunately, been unable to completely escape such data limitations. However, we have compiled and analyzed a large array of employment data on sports-related economic activities in Europe. In the paper that follows, we describe our analyses of these data and the findings produced. Section 1 begins with a discussion of employment in sports and an explanation of why we chose this variable for our analyses. Section 2 provides an overview of the data used in this paper particularly focusing on the differences between it and the Mexico data discussed in Guerra (2016). It also describes the methodology we use. We analyze these data using one of two related measures to understand the intensity of sports-related activities across different geographic areas in countries. We also construct measures at the level of a single country in order to compare across entire economies. At the international level, we adopt the revealed comparative advantage (RCA) measure that Balassa (1965) first developed to analyze international trade. Within specific countries, however, we use a population-adjusted version of the RCA measure known as RPOP. Section 3 presents the most relevant findings and Section 4 discusses their limitations. Section 5 concludes with the lessons learned and avenues for future research. While there are limitations on these analyses, they can give policymakers a better understanding of the distribution and concentration of sports across space. Such information can serve as an important input for sports-related investment decisions and other sports-related policies.
  • Topic: Employment, Sports, Economy, International Development
  • Political Geography: Europe, Central America, European Union
  • Author: Matt Andrews, Lant Pritchett, Michael Woolcock
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: We divide the 102 historically developing countries (HDCs) into those with ‘very weak’, ‘weak’, ‘middle’, and ‘strong’ state capability. Analyzing the levels and recent growth rates of the HDCs’ capability for policy implementation reveals how pervasively “stuck” most of them are. Only eight HDCs have attained strong capability, and since most of these are small (e.g., Singapore, UAE), less than 100 million (or 1.7%) of the roughly 5.8 billion people in HDCs currently live in high capability states. Almost half (49) of these countries have very weak or weak capability, and thus their long-run pace of acquiring capability is also very slow. Alarmingly, three quarters of these countries (36 of 49) have experienced negative growth in state capability in recent decades, while more than a third of all countries (36 of 102) have low and (in the medium run at least) deteriorating state capability. At current rates, the ‘time to high capability’ of the 49 currently weak capability states and the 36 with negative growth is obviously “forever”. But even for the 13 with positive growth, only three would reach strong capability by the end of the 21st century at their current medium run growth.
  • Topic: Developing World, International Development, State, Public Policy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America