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  • Author: Scott Morris, Gailyn Portelance
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Under the World Bank’s 2018 capital agreement, borrowing countries are expected to gradually reduce their portfolios once a base income threshold—the Graduation Discussion Income (GDI)—is reached. However, the agreement also affirms the case for ongoing lending to these countries. One justification is tied to external value beyond the borrowing country’s borders (global public goods, or GPGs). Another is tied to building capacity within the borrowing country, which can mean a focus on sub-regions where poverty remains high and capacity weak. In this paper, we examine World Bank graduation policies and lending through the lens of China, which maintains a large portfolio of World Bank projects. China currently exceeds the GDI thresholds for IBRD borrowing at the national level, while income inequality within the country leaves many noncoastal provinces below the GDI per capita threshold. Aggregate and provincial-level analysis of World Bank lending in China shows that less than half of China’s portfolio comprises activities clearly linked to GPGs, while a slight majority of projects are based in provinces with per capita income below the GDI threshold. A substantial number of World Bank projects in China focus on climate change mitigation and transportation infrastructure construction, while a smaller number relate to capacity building. Overall, we find evidence that China’s borrowing is broadly consistent with the 2018 principles of institutional capacity strengthening and GPG-related engagement, although significant areas of bank engagement do not appear to fall within the parameters of these principles.
  • Topic: Poverty, Infrastructure, World Bank, Inequality
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • 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: Cindy Huang, Kate Gough
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Bangladesh is providing a significant global public good by hosting nearly one million Rohingya refugees, including 700,000 who fled violence carried out with “genocidal intent” in 2017. Most refugees are living in camps in Cox’s Bazar District, where local resources and livelihoods are under strain. The situation has exacerbated development challenges and environmental degradation, such as inadequate public services and rapid deforestation. Safe, voluntary, and sustainable Rohingya repatriation to Myanmar is ultimately the best solution. However, the conditions for return do not exist, and Myanmar has not demonstrated meaningful progress in establishing them. Even if conditions did exist and voluntary repatriation began tomorrow, estimates show a large number of Rohingya will still be in Cox’s Bazar 10 years from now. The refugee situation is likely to be protracted. Medium-term planning is critical. The international community has an opportunity to recognize Bangladesh’s contributions through a robust responsibility-sharing process. In addition to humanitarian aid, this would include commitments that support development among host communities, as well as broader regional and national development strategies. There is precedent for development financing and beyond-aid solutions for refugees and host communities, such as in the Jordan, Lebanon, and Ethiopia Compacts. These agreements seek to meet the medium-term needs and generate inclusive growth for refugees and hosts, including through policy adjustments that enable self-reliance and reduce aid dependence. This brief explores the potential range of responsibility-sharing commitments in support of Bangladesh. It does not address the separate and equally important issues of securing justice and accountability for Myanmar’s alleged atrocities and establishing the necessary conditions in Myanmar for safe, voluntary, and sustainable repatriation—nor does it make recommendations on the humanitarian response, which remains essential. This brief focuses exclusively on the medium-term, development-oriented approach. It covers several categories of contribution and commitment types, including trade and investment, labor mobility, SEZ and infrastructure investment, private sector investment, resettlement, and development and climate finance. Each category includes illustrative examples, some of which are specific to one or a subset of UN Member States and others that are more broadly applicable. Geopolitical factors surrounding the Rohingya situation and potential responsibility-sharing commitments are also discussed. Building on this mapping, we will prepare a full report in 2019. The report will highlight a subset of anchor contributions that could build momentum for a responsibility-sharing process that delivers a “win-win-win” for refugees, host communities, and Bangladesh’s broader development objectives.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Refugees, Displacement, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, 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: Kimberly Singer Babiarz, Paul Ma, Grant Miller, Shige Song
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Most of China’s fertility decline predates the famous One Child Policy—and instead occurred under its predecessor, the Later, Longer, Fewer (LLF) policy. Studying LLF’s contribution to fertility and sex selection behavior, we find that it i) reduced China’s total fertility rate by 0.9 births per woman (explaining 28% of China’s modern fertility decline), ii) doubled the use of male-biased fertility stopping rules, and iii) promoted postnatal neglect (implying 210,000 previously unrecognized missing girls). Considering Chinese population policy to be extreme in global experience, our paper demonstrates the limits of population policy—and its potential human costs.
  • Topic: Population, Sexuality, Fertility
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • 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: Scott Morris
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Kunming-Vientiane (K-V) railway, part of the Kunming-Singapore multi-country rail network (or “Pan-Asia Railway”), is an anchor investment of the Chinese government’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI). This case study will assess the rail project along four dimensions: economic implications; procurement arrangements; labor; and environmental and social safeguards. In each of these areas, evidence from the railway project suggests that Chinese policy and practice could be better aligned with the practices of other sources of multilateral and bilateral development finance. Where the project’s standards are broadly aligned, at least in principle, there is nonetheless reason to believe that China’s approach carries heightened risks given the overall scale of financing. These risks hold for China’s global program of official finance, which has made the country the largest source of official credit in the world. In this regard, BRI policymakers should consider a more rigorous set of “best practices” that align Chinese official finance with leading multilateral standards, even if these practices don’t currently characterize many other bilateral lenders. Such an approach would be consistent with the multilateral vision for BRI espoused by Chinese officials and reflected in the framework of the annual Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. This study considers what a stronger set of standards would look like in the context of the four areas of focus.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Transportation, Railways
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Liesl Schnabel, Cindy Huang
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In August 2017, widespread violence carried out with “genocidal intent” in Myanmar forced 745,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh and settle in camps in Cox’s Bazar.[1] Fifty-two percent of the refugee population there are women and girls.[2] Those of reproductive age are in dire need of emergency and longer-term sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)[3] services. Many have additional needs related to sexual trauma experienced in Myanmar and/or in Bangladesh.[4],[5] For many, these needs are not being fully met due to implementation and access barriers.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Health, Women, Reproductive Rights, Sexual Health
  • Political Geography: Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: Gabriel Demombynes, Justin Sandefur
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The lack of reliable development statistics for many poor countries has led the U.N. to call for a “data revolution” (United Nations, 2013). One fairly narrow but widespread interpretation of this revolution is for international aid donors to fund a coordinated wave of household surveys across the developing world, tracking progress on a new round of post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. We use data from the International Household Survey Network (IHSN) to show (i) the supply of household surveys has accelerated dramatically over the past 30 years and that (ii) demand for survey data appears to be higher in democracies and more aid-dependent countries. We also show that given existing international survey programs, the cost to international aid donors of filling remaining survey gaps is manageable--on the order of $300 million per year. We argue that any aid-financed expansion of household surveys should be complemented with (a) increased access to data through open data protocols, and (b) simultaneous support for the broader statistical system, including routine administrative data systems.
  • Topic: Development, Human Welfare, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Asia, United Nations
  • 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