03. Journals

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These are journal articles published in World Bank journals as well as externally by World Bank authors.

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    Persistent Misallocation and the Returns to Education in Mexico
    (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2020-06) Levy, Santiago ; López-Calva, Luis F.
    Over the last two decades, Mexico has experienced macroeconomic stability, an open trade regime, and substantial progress in education. Yet average workers’ earnings have stagnated, and earnings of those with higher schooling have fallen, compressing the earnings distribution and lowering the returns to education. This paper argues that distortions that misallocate resources toward less-productive firms explain these phenomena, because these firms are less intensive in well-educated workers compared with more-productive ones. It shows that while the relative supply of workers with more years of schooling has increased, misallocation of resources toward less-productive firms has persisted. These two trends have generated a widening mismatch between the supply of, and the demand for, educated workers. The paper breaks down worker earnings into observable and unobservable firm and individual worker characteristics, and computes a counterfactual earnings distribution in the absence of misallocation. The main finding is that in the absence of misallocation average earnings would be higher, and that earnings differentials across schooling levels would widen, raising the returns to education. A no-misallocation path is constructed for the wage premium. Depending on parameter values, this path is found to be rising or constant, in contrast to the observed downward path. The paper concludes arguing that the persistence of misallocation impedes Mexico from taking full advantage of its investments in the education of its workforce.
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    Gender, Informal Employment and Trade Liberalization in Mexico
    (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2020-06) Yahmed, Sarra Ben ; Bombarda, Pamela
    This paper studies how import liberalization affects formal employment across gender. The theory offers a mechanism to explain how male and female formal employment shares can respond differently to trade liberalization through labor reallocation across tradable and nontradable sectors. Using Mexican data over the period 1993–2001, we find that Mexican tariff cuts increase the probability of working formally for both men and women within four-digit manufacturing industries. The formalization of jobs within tradable sectors is driven by large firms. Constructing a regional tariff measure, we find that regional exposure to import liberalization increases the probability of working formally in the manufacturing sector for both men and women, and especially for men. However in the service sectors, the probability of working formally decreases for low-skilled women.
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    The Political Economy of Multidimensional Child Poverty Measurement: A Comparative Analysis of Mexico and Uganda
    (Taylor and Francis, 2020-03-11) Cuesta, Jose ; Biggeri, Mario ; Hernandez-Licona, Gonzalo ; Aparicio, Ricardo ; Guillen-Fernandez, Yedith
    As part of the 2030 Agenda, much effort has been exerted in comparing multidimensional child poverty measures both technically and conceptually. Yet, few countries have adopted and used any of these measures in policymaking. This paper explores the reasons for this absence from a political economy perspective. It develops an innovative political economy framework for poverty measurement and a hypothesis whereby a country will only produce and use reliable and sustainable multidimensional child poverty (MDCP) measures if and only if three conditions coalesce: consensus, capacity and polity. We explore this framework with two relevant case studies, Mexico and Uganda. Both countries satisfy the capacity condition required to measure MDCP but only Mexico satisfies the other two conditions. Our proposed political economy framework is normatively relevant because it identifies the conditions that need to change across multiple contexts before the effective adoption and use of an MDCP measure becomes more likely.
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    Representativity and Networked Interference in Data-Rich Field Experiments: A Large-Scale RCT in Rural Mexico
    (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2020-02) Noriega, Alejandro ; Pentland, Alex
    Modern availability of rich geospatial datasets and analysis tools can provide insight germane to the design of field experiments. Design of field experiments, and in particular the choice of sampling strategy, requires careful consideration of its consequences on the external representativity and interference (SUTVA violations) of the experimental sample. This paper presents a methodology for a) modeling the geospatial and social interaction factors that drive interference in rural field experiments; and b) eliciting a set of nondominated sample options that approximate the Pareto-optimal tradeoff between interference and external representativity, as functions of sample choice. The study develops and tests the methodology in the context of a large-scale health experiment in rural Mexico, involving more than 3,000 pregnant women and 600 health clinics across 5 states. Relevant for the practitioner, the methodology is computationally tractable and can be implemented leveraging open sourced geo-spatial data and software tools.
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    Can Wage Subsidies Boost Employment in the Wake of an Economic Crisis? Evidence from Mexico
    (Taylor and Francis, 2020-01-31) Bruhn, Miriam
    This paper measures the employment effect of a program in Mexico that granted firms wage subsidies during the recent economic crisis. I use monthly administrative data at the industry level, along with Euclidean distance matching to construct groups of eligible and ineligible durable goods manufacturing industries that display statistically identical preprogram trends in employment. Difference-in-difference results show a positive but not statistically significant effect of the wage subsidies on employment during the program’s eight-month duration. The size of the effect increases to 18 per cent after the program ended and the results indicate that employment after the program recovered faster in eligible industries than in ineligible industries. Additional analysis suggests that the program did not incentivize firms to retain workers with job-specific skills as originally intended. Instead, the payment of subsidy funds, which only happened towards the end of the program, seems to have provided liquidity for hiring back workers.
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    The Contribution of Increased Equity to the Estimated Social Benefits from a Transfer Program: An Illustration from PROGRESA/Oportunidades
    (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2019-10) Alderman, Harold ; Behrman, Jere R. ; Tasneem, Afia
    Most impact evaluations of Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) and Unconditional Cash Transfers (UCTs) focus on the returns to increased human capital investments that will be reaped largely or exclusively in the future (e.g., when current children have increased productivities as adults). But the objectives of these programs are not only to increase human capital investments with implications for future levels and distributions of income but also to alleviate current poverty and reduce current inequality. The current distributional gains from such programs depend on the degree of inequality aversion in the social welfare function. Simulations show that, for a range of inequality aversion parameters, the welfare gains from current redistribution for the Mexican PROGRESA CCT program can be as large, or possibly much larger, than the estimated present discounted value of future earnings from human capital investments in lower and upper secondary schooling. These, moreover, are underestimates of the gains from redistribution because, in addition to current gains, such gains will be augmented in the future through the distribution of the returns on the human capital investments induced by cash transfer programs. Therefore, to fully evaluate such programs, it is critical to incorporate the distributional gains, not only the impacts on human capital investments.
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    Supporting Pathways to Prosperity in Forest Landscapes – A PRIME Framework
    (Elsevier, 2019-08-07) Shyamsundar, Priya ; Ahlroth, Sofia ; Kristjanson, Patricia ; Onder, Stefanie
    We develop a framework to conceptualize the multiple ways forests contribute to poverty reduction and inform development interventions in forest landscapes. We identify five key strategies for reducing poverty in forest landscapes: a) improvements in productivity (P) of forest land and labor; b) governance reform to strengthen community, household and women’s rights (R) over forests and land; c) investments (I) in institutions, infrastructure and public services that facilitate forest-based entrepreneurship; d) increased access to markets (M) for timber or non-timber forest products; and e) mechanisms that enhance and enable the flow of benefits from forest ecosystem services (E) to the poor. We test the utility of the framework through a review of the forestry portfolio of the World Bank Group, the largest public investor in forestry. Many of these projects include several, but not all, PRIME components. We devote particular attention to forest-related investments in two contrasting countries, Vietnam and Mexico, to examine synergies among the pathways. Results suggest that each strategy in the PRIME framework may play an important role in alleviating poverty, but pronounced impacts may require multiple pathways to be jointly pursued. The PRIME framework can guide research to address knowledge gaps on pathways to prosperity in forest landscapes, serve as an easily remembered checklist for managers, and nudge forest program designers in government and development organizations, who are interested in poverty reduction, to focus on the importance of both a comprehensive framework and synergies across different pathways.
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    Income Mobility, Income Risk, and Welfare
    (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2019-06) Krebs, Tom ; Krishna, Pravin ; Maloney, William F.
    This paper presents a framework for the quantitative analysis of individual income dynamics, mobility, and welfare, with ex ante identical individuals facing a stochastic income process and market incompleteness, implying that they are unable to insure against persistent shocks to income. We show how the parameters of the income process can be estimated using repeated cross-sectional data with a short panel dimension and use a simple consumption-saving model for quantitative analysis of mobility and welfare. Our empirical application, using data on individual incomes from Mexico, provides striking results. Most of the measured income mobility is driven by measurement error or transitory income shocks and is therefore (almost) welfare neutral. Only a small part of measured income mobility is due to either welfare-reducing income risk or welfare-enhancing catching-up of low-income individuals with high-income individuals, both of which, nevertheless, have economically significant effects on social welfare. Strikingly, roughly half of the mobility that cannot be attributed to measurement error or transitory income shocks is driven by welfare-reducing persistent income shocks. Decomposing mobility into its fundamental components is thus crucial from the standpoint of welfare evaluation.
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    Neighborhood Effects in Integrated Social Policies
    (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2019-02) Bobba, Matteo ; Gignoux, Jeremie
    When potential beneficiaries share their knowledge and attitudes about a policy intervention, their decision to participate and the effectiveness of both the policy and its evaluation may be influenced. This matters most notably in integrated social policies with several components. We examine spillover effects on take-up behaviors in the context of a conditional cash transfer program in rural Mexico. We exploit exogenous variations in the local frequency of beneficiaries generated by the program’s randomized evaluation. A higher treatment density in the areas surrounding the evaluation villages increases the take-up of scholarships and enrollment at the lower-secondary level. These cross-village spillovers operate exclusively within households receiving another component of the program, and do not carry over larger distances. While several tests reject heterogeneities in impact due to spatial variations in program implementation, we find evidence to suggest that spillovers stem partly from the sharing of information about the program among eligible households.
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    Evolving Wage Cyclicality in Latin America
    (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2018-10) Gambeti, Luca ; Messina, Julian
    This paper examines the evolution of the cyclicality of real wages and employment in four Latin American economies, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico, during the period 1980–2010.Wages were highly procyclical during the 1980s and early 1990s, a period characterized by high inflation. As inflation declined wages became less procyclical, a feature that is consistent with emerging downward wage rigidities in a low inflation environment. Compositional effects associated with changes in labor participation along the business cycle appear to matter less for estimates of wage cyclicality than in developed economies.