Journal articles published externally

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These are journal articles by World Bank authors published externally.

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The Relevance of a Rules-Based Maize Marketing Policy: An Experimental Case Study of Zambia

2011, Abbink, Klaus, Jayne, Thomas S., Moller, Lars C.

Strategic interaction between public and private actors is increasingly recognised as an important determinant of agricultural market performance in Africa and elsewhere. Trust and consultation tends to positively affect private activity while uncertainty of government behaviour impedes it. This paper reports on a laboratory experiment based on a stylised model of the Zambian maize market. The experiment facilitates a comparison between discretionary interventionism and a rules-based policy in which the government pre-commits itself to a future course of action. A simple precommitment rule can, in theory, overcome the prevailing strategic dilemma by encouraging private sector participation. Although this result is also borne out in the economic experiment, the improvement in private sector activity is surprisingly small and not statistically significant due to irrationally cautious choices by experimental governments. Encouragingly, a rules-based policy promotes a much more stable market outcome thereby substantially reducing the risk of severe food shortages. These results underscore the importance of predictable and transparent rules for the state's involvement in agricultural markets.

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Income Shocks and Corruption in Africa : Does a Virtuous Cycle Exist?

2011, Voors, Maarten J., Bulte, Erwin H., Damania, Richard

Empirical evidence suggests that governance quality is a key driver of economic growth and that, in turn, higher incomes might have a positive causal effect on the quality of governance. Such complementarity could invite virtuous cycles of development. Using a measure of corruption as our proxy for the quality of governance, and rainfall as an instrument for income, we explore this issue and find evidence to the contrary. For a panel of African countries, positive income shocks on average tend to invite extra corruption. Closer inspection, however, reveals that this result can be attributed to the most corrupt countries. Conversely, countries with a sufficiently low level of corruption can escape the detrimental effect of income booms on corruption and may actually experience a virtuous cycle of development.

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Development and the Interaction of Enforcement Institutions

2011, Dhillon, Amrita, Rigolini, Jamele

We examine how formal and informal contract enforcing institutions interact in a competitive market with asymmetric information where consumers do not observe quality before purchase. Firm level incentives for producing high quality can be achieved with an informal enforcement mechanism, reputation, the efficacy of which is enhanced by consumers investing in "connectedness;" or with a formal mechanism, legal enforcement, the effectiveness of which can be reduced by means of bribes. We show that formal and informal enforcement mechanisms do not necessarily substitute each other: while high levels of judicial efficiency decrease consumers' incentives to connect, higher consumers' connectedness leads to higher levels of judicial efficiency. We then look at how the equilibrium institutional mix evolves with the level of development. In doing so we show the presence of a new, physical, channel that can affect institutions--i.e., the frequency of bad productivity shocks that, in less developed settings, can impact on firms' incentives to cheat.

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Does Formality Improve Micro-firm Performance? Evidence from the Brazilian SIMPLES Program

2011, Fajnzylber, Pablo, Maloney, William F., Montes-Rojas, Gabriel V.

This paper exploits an extensive Brazilian micro-enterprise survey and the 1996 introduction of a business tax reduction and simplification scheme (SIMPLES) to examine three questions. First, do high tax rates and complex tax regulations really constitute a barrier to the formalization of micro-firms? Second, does formalization improve firm performance measured along several dimensions, including revenues, employment and capital stock? Third, what are the channels through which this occurs? We find that SIMPLES led to a significant increase in formality in several dimensions. Moreover, newly created firms that opt for operating formally show higher levels of revenue and profits, employ more workers and are more capital intensive (only for those firms that have employees). The channel through which this occurs is not access to credit or contracts with larger firms. Rather, it appears that the lower cost of contracting labor leads to adopting production techniques that involve a permanent location and a larger paid labor force.

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Determinants and Macroeconomic Impact of Remittances in Sub-Saharan Africa

2011, Singh, Raju Jan, Haacker, Markus, Lee, Kyung-woo, Le Goff, Maelan

This paper investigates the determinants and the macroeconomic role of remittances in sub-Saharan Africa. It assembles the most comprehensive data set available so far on remittances in the region; it comprises data for 36 countries for 1990 through 2008, and incorporates newly available data on the size and location of the diaspora. We find that remittances are larger for countries with a larger diaspora or when the diaspora is located in wealthier countries, and that they behave counter-cyclically, consistent with a role as a shock absorber. Although the effect of remittances in growth regressions is negative, countries with well functioning domestic institutions seem nevertheless to be better at unlocking the potential for remittances to contribute to faster economic growth.

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Climbing to the Top? Foreign Direct Investment and Property Rights

2011, Ali, Fathi, Fiess, Norbert, MacDonald, Ronald

This article operates at the interface of the literature on the impact of foreign direct investment (FDI) on host countries and the literature on the determinants of institutional quality. We argue that FDI contributes to economic development by improving institutional quality in the host country. This proposition is tested within a large panel data set of 70 developing countries for the period 1981-2005. We show that FDI inflows have a positive and highly significant impact on property rights. Results are very robust and not affected by model specification, different control variables, or estimation technique. To our knowledge this is the first article to empirically test the FDI-property rights linkage.

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Revisiting Between-Group Inequality Measurement: An Application to the Dynamics of Caste Inequality in Two Indian Villages

2011, Lanjouw, Peter, Rao, Vijayendra

Standard approaches to decomposing how much group differences contribute to inequality rarely show significant between-group inequality, and are of limited use in comparing populations with different numbers of groups. We apply an adaptation to the standard approach that remedies these problems to longitudinal household data from two Indian villages-Palanpur in the north and Sugao in the west. In Palanpur we find that the largest Scheduled Caste group failed to share in the gradual rise in village prosperity. This would not have emerged from standard decomposition analysis. However, in Sugao the alternative procedure does not yield any additional insights because income gains have applied relatively evenly across castes.

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Investment without Democracy : Ruling-Party Institutionalization and Credible Commitment in Autocracies

2011, Gehlbach, Scott, Keefer, Philip

What explains private investment in autocracies, where institutions that discourage expropriation in democracies are absent? We argue that institutionalized ruling parties allow autocrats to make credible commitments to investors. Such parties promote investment by solving collective-action problems among a designated group, who invest with the expectation that the autocrat will not attempt their expropriation. We derive conditions under which autocrats want to create such parties, and we predict that private investment and governance will be stronger in their presence. We illustrate the model by examining the institutionalization of the Chinese Communist Party.

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Impacts of Land Certification on Tenure Security: Investment, and Land Market Participation : Evidence from Ethiopia

2011, Deininger, Klaus, Ali, Daniel Ayalew

While early attempts at land titling in Africa were often unsuccessful, factors such as new legislation, low-cost methods, and increasing demand for land have generated renewed interest. A four-period panel allows use of a pipeline and difference-indifferences approach to assess impacts of land registration in Ethiopia. We find that the program increased tenure security, land-related investment, and rental market participation and yielded benefits significantly above the cost of implementation.

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Growth Identification and Facilitation : The Role of the State in the Dynamics of Structural Change

2011, Lin, Justin, Monga, Celestin

The historical record indicates that in all successful economies, the state has always played an important role in facilitating structural change and helping the private sector sustain it across time. This paper puts forward a new approach to help policymakers in developing countries identify those industries that may hold latent comparative advantage and recommends ways of removing binding constraints to facilitate private firms' entry into those industries. Two types of government interventions are distinguished, first are policies that facilitate structural change by overcoming information and coordination and externality issues, which are intrinsic to industrial upgrading and diversification; and second policies aimed at protecting some selected firms and industries that defy the comparative advantage determined by the existing endowment structure.