Journal Issue: World Bank Economic Review, Volume 17, Issue 3

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Risk Sharing in Labor Markets
(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2003-09) Bigsten, Arne ; Collier, Paul ; Dercon, Stefan ; Fafchamps, Marcel ; Gauthier, Bernard ; Gunning, Jan Willem ; Oduro, Abena ; Oostendorp, Remco ; Pattillo, Cathy ; Soderbom, Mans ; Teal, Francis ; Zeufack, Albert
Empirical work in labor economics has focused on rent sharing as an explanation for the observed correlation between wages and profitability. The alternative explanation of risk sharing between workers and employers has not been tested. Using a unique panel data set for four African countries, Authors find strong evidence of risk sharing. Workers in effect offer insurance to employers: when firms are hit by temporary shocks, the effect on profits is cushioned by risk sharing with workers. Rent sharing is a symptom of an inefficient labor market. Risk sharing; by contrast, can be seen as an efficient response to missing markets. Authors evidence suggests that risk sharing accounts for a substantial part of the observed effect of shocks on wages.
Macro and Micro Perspectives of Growth and Poverty in Africa
(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2003-09) Christiaensen, Luc ; Demery, Lionel ; Paternostro, Stefano
This article reviews trends in poverty, economic policies, and growth in a sample of African countries during the 1990s, drawing on the better household data now available. Experiences have varied. Some countries have seen sharp drops in income poverty, whereas others have witnessed marked increases. In some countries overall economic growth has been pro-poor and in others not. But the aggregate numbers hide systematic distributional effects. Taking both macro and micro perspectives of growth and poverty in Africa, the article draws four key conclusions. First, economic policy reforms (improving macroeconomic balances and liberalizing markets) appear conducive to reducing poverty. Second, market connectedness is crucial to enable participation in the gains from economic growth. Some regions and households by virtue of their remoteness were left behind when growth picked up. Third, education and access to land emerge as key private endowments to help households benefit from new economic opportunities. Finally, rainfall variations and ill health have profound effects on poverty outcomes, underscoring the significance of social risk management in poverty reduction strategies in Africa.
Trade Facilitation and Economic Development : New Approach to Quantifying the Impact
(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2003-09) Wilson, John S. ; Mann, Catherine L. ; Otsuki, Tsunehiro
This article analyzes the relationship between trade facilitation and trade flows in the Asia Pacific region. Country specific data for port efficiency, customs environment, regulatory environment, and e-business usage are used to construct indicators for measuring trade facilitation. The relationship between these indicators and trade flows is estimated using a gravity model that includes tariffs and other standard variables. Enhanced port efficiency has a large and positive effect on trade flows. Regulatory barriers deter trade. Improvements in customs and greater e-business use significantly expand trade but to a lesser degree than improvements in ports or regulations. The benefits of specific trade facilitation efforts are estimated by quantifying differential improvements in these four areas among members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). A scenario in which APEC members with below-average indicators improve capacity halfway to the average forall members shows that intra-APEC trade could increase by Dollar 254 billion, or 21 percent of intra-APEC trade flows.
Water Subsidy Policies : Comparison of the Chilean and Colombian Schemes
(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2003-09) Gomez-Lobo, Andres ; Contreras, Dante
Analysis of two water subsidy schemes a means tested subsidy in Chile and a geographically targeted subsidy in Colombia shows that the means-tested system is better able to identify poor households than the geographically targeted scheme. However, the overall distributive impact of both schemes is quite similar, at least for the three lowest income deciles, because the amount of benefits per household in the geographically targeted Colombian scheme are differentiated by the socioeconomic classification of household. Despite the relative merits of the Chilean means tested scheme, targeting errors are still quite large. More than 60 percent of subsidies accrue to households that are above the third decile of the income distribution. If the policy objective in Chile is to benefit a significant proportion of households in the lowest income deciles, then either the targeting mechanism must be improved or the number of subsidies has to increase to take into account these targeting imperfections. In Colombia almost all households receive some kind of benefit, implying an unnecessarily high fiscal cost. An improvement in the targeting mechanism could lower this cost without jeopardizing benefits to lower-income households. Some suggestions for additional research and for improving both schemes are discussed.
Policy Selectivity Forgone: Debt and Donor Behavior in Africa
(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2003-09) Birdsall, Nancy ; Claessens, Stijn ; Diwan, Ishac
Authors assess the dynamics behind the high net resource transfers by donors and creditors to Sub-Saharan African countries. Analyzing the determinants of overall net transfers for a panel of 37 recipient countries in 1978-98, Authors find that country policies mattered little. Donors especially bilateral donors actually made greater transfers to countries with high debt, largely owed to multilateral creditors, when policies were 'bad'. Authors conclude that comprehensive debt relief has the potential, though not the certainty, to restore selectivity in support of good policies. That would make development assistance more effective going forward and increase public support in donor countries.