Journal Issue: World Bank Economic Review, Volume 26, Issue 1

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Skills, Exports, and the Wages of Seven Million Latin American Workers
(World Bank, 2012-01-18) Brambilla, Irene ; Dix-Carneiro, Rafael ; Lederman, Daniel ; Porto, Guido
The returns to schooling and the skill premium are key parameters in various fields and policy debates, including the literatures on globalization and inequality, international migration, and technological change. This paper explores the skill premium and its correlation with exports in Latin America, thus linking the skill premium to the emerging literature on the structure of trade and development. Using data on employment and wages for over seven million workers from sixteen Latin American economies, the authors estimate national and industry-specific returns to schooling and skill premiums and study some of their determinants. The evidence suggests that both country and industry characteristics are important in explaining returns to schooling and skill premiums. The analyses also suggest that the incidence of exports within industries, the average income per capita within countries, and the relative abundance of skilled workers are related to the underlying industry and country characteristics that explain these parameters. In particular, sectoral exports are positively correlated with the skill premium at the industry level, a result that supports recent trade models linking exports with wages and the demand for skills.
Resource Windfalls and Emerging Market Sovereign Bond Spreads : The Role of Political Institutions
(World Bank, 2012-01-18) Arezki, Rabah ; Brückner, Markus
We examine the effect that revenue windfalls from international commodity price booms have on sovereign bond spreads using panel data for 38 emerging market economies during the period 1997-2007. Our main finding is that commodity price booms lead to a significant reduction in the sovereign bond spread in democracies, but to a significant increase in the spread in autocracies. To explain our finding we show that, consistent with the political economy literature on the resource curse, revenue windfalls from international commodity price booms significantly increased real per capita GDP growth in democracies, while in autocracies GDP per capita growth decreased.
How to Deal with Covert Child Labor and Give Children an Effective Education, in a Poor Developing Country
(World Bank, 2012-01-18) Cigno, Alessandro
Because credit and insurance markets are imperfect and intrafamily transfers and how children use their time outside school hours are private information, the second-best policy makes school enrollment compulsory, forces overt child labor below its efficient level (if positive), and uses a combination of need- and merit-based grants, financed by earmarked taxes, to relax credit constraints, redistribute, and insure. Existing conditional cash transfer schemes can be made to approximate the second-best policy by incorporating these principles in some measure.
Is Economic Volatility Detrimental to Global Sustainability?
(Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2012-01-18) Huang, Yongfu
In a dynamic panel data model allowing for error cross-section dependence, output volatility is found to impede sustainable development. Through a financial development channel (liquidity liability ratio), output volatility exerts a significant effect on depletion of natural resources, a key component of sustainability. Low-income countries, low energy-intensity countries, and low trade-share countries tend to be especially vulnerable to macroeconomic volatility and shocks. The findings highlight the interaction between global financial markets and the wider economy as a key factor influencing sustainable development, with important implications for macroeconomic and environmental policies in an integrated global green economy.
The Discriminatory Nature of Specific Tariffs
(Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2012-01-18) Chowdhury, Sohini
This paper quantifies the distortions from specific tariffs levied by the EU. The most-favored-nation (MFN) specific tariffs levied by the EU translate into higher tariff barriers for poor countries exporting low price goods. We show that for poor countries, these higher tariff barriers from specific tariffs offset the gains from preferential tariffs. We apply a two-stage analysis to show that the specific tariffs levied by the EU on its agricultural imports wash away more than half of the welfare benefits enjoyed by the Sub-Saharan African countries from EU preferential tariffs. Our results provide the first quantitative estimate of the distortions associated with specific tariffs.
When Should We Worry about Inflation?
(Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2012-01-18) Espinoza, Raphael ; Leon, Hyginus ; Prasad, Ananthakrishnan
At what level should inflation be a concern? From a growth perspective, high and rising levels of inflation as in 2006–2008 raise concerns that inflation, if uncontained, could undermine growth. On the other hand, higher levels of inflation could create more space for using monetary policy to reduce nominal and real interest rates during financial crises. A nonlinear growth regression for 165 countries over 1960–2007 shows that for developing countries, inflation above 10 percent quickly hurts growth. For advanced economies, there is no specific threshold: in the medium term, higher inflation hurts growth for any initial level of inflation, suggesting that there is a real cost to maintaining higher inflation as a buffer.
Empirical Evidence on Satisfaction with Privatization in Latin America
(World Bank, 2012-01-18) Bonnet, Céline ; Dubois, Pierre ; Martimort, David ; Straub, Stéphane
Since the 1980s, privatization of formerly state-owned firms has been extensively implemented by governments across Latin America. Despite the fact that most evaluations of the process fail to find significant adverse efficiency and welfare effects, there has been a strong surge in public discontent with such policy in the region. This paper performs a systematic empirical analysis of the determinants of such dissatisfaction, using survey data from Latinobarometro covering 17 countries over the period 1998-2008, complemented by country level data on macroeconomic, political, and institutional aspects as well as data on privatization. Dissatisfaction appears to respond to absolute and relative welfare effects, and we find a robust U-shaped effect in term of education and income levels, with individuals in the middle of such distributions being more critical with the outcome of privatizations.