Journal Issue: World Bank Research Observer, Volume 38, Issue 2

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The Promise and Limitations of Information Technology for Tax Mobilization
(Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2022-10-20) Okunogbe, Oyebola; Santoro, Fabrizio
Tax revenue in many low- and middle-income countries is inadequate for funding investments in public goods and human capital. With high levels of informality and limited state capacity, many tax authorities have difficulty determining the true tax base and collecting taxes efficiently and equitably. Tax authorities are increasingly adopting new technologies to improve administrative processes, reduce taxpayer compliance costs, and enhance their overall effectiveness. This paper reviews the recent literature on the use of technology for tax administration. It highlights the potential of technology to improve tax collection by helping to identify the tax base, monitor compliance, and facilitate compliance. It also identifies possible limitations to the use of technology arising from inadequate infrastructure and connectivity, lack of adoption or resistance by taxpayers and tax collectors, lack of institutional mainstreaming, and an unsupportive regulatory environment.
What Makes Public Sector Data Valuable for Development?
(Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2023-04-14) Jolliffe, Dean; Veerappan, Malarvizhi; Kilic, Talip; Wollburg, Philip
Data produced by the public sector can have transformational impacts on development outcomes through better targeting of resources, improved service delivery, cost savings, increased accountability, and more. Around the world, the amount of data produced by the public sector is increasing rapidly, but we argue the full potential of data to improve development outcomes has not been realized yet. We outline 12 features needed for data to generate greater value for development and present case studies substantiating these features. We argue that a key reason why the transformational value of data has not yet been realized is that suboptimal data—data not satisfying these 12 features—are being supplied. The features are that the data should be of adequate spatial and temporal coverage (complete, frequent, and timely), should be of high quality (accurate, comparable, and granular), should be easy to use (accessible, understandable, and interoperable), and should be safe to use (impartial, confidential, and appropriate).
Quasi-Experimental Evidence on Carbon Pricing
(Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2023-03-29) Vrolijk, Kasper; Sato, Misato
A growing literature suggests that carbon emissions are most efficiently reduced by carbon pricing. The evidence base on the effectiveness of market-based mechanisms, however, faces three key limitations: studies often (a) predict, rather than evaluate effects, (b) show large difference in findings, and (c) cannot always infer causal relations. Quasi-experimental studies can address these challenges by using variation in policies over time, space, or entities. This paper systematically reviews this new literature, outlines the benefits and caveats of quasi-experimental methodologies, and verifies the reliability and value of quasi-experimental estimates. The overall evidence base documents a causal effect between carbon pricing and emission reductions, with ambiguous effects on economic outcomes, and there are important gaps and inconsistencies. This review underscores that estimates should be interpreted with care because of: (a) inappropriate choice of method, (b) incorrect implementation of empirical analysis (e.g., violate identifying assumptions), and (c) data limitations. More cross-learning across studies and use of novel empirical strategies is needed to improve the empirical evidence base going forward.
Impacts of Temporary Migration on Development in Origin Countries
(Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2023-04-17) Bossavie, Laurent; Özden, Çağlar
Temporary migration is widespread globally. While the literature has traditionally focused on the impacts of permanent migration on destination countries, evidence on the effects of temporary migration on origin countries has grown over the past decade. This paper highlights that the economic development impacts, especially on low- and middle-income origin countries, are complex, dynamic, context-specific, and multichanneled. The paper identifies five main pathways: (a) labor supply; (b) human capital; (c) financial capital and entrepreneurship; (d) aggregate welfare and poverty; and (e) institutions and social norms. Several factors shape these pathways and their eventual impacts. These include initial economic conditions at home, the scale and double selectivity of emigration and return migration, whether migration was planned to be temporary ex ante, and employment and human capital accumulation opportunities experienced by migrants while they are overseas. Meaningful policy interventions to increase the development impacts of temporary migration require proper analysis, which, in turn, depends on high-quality data on workers’ employment trajectories, as well as their decision processes on the timing of their migration and return. These are currently the biggest research challenges to overcome to study the development impacts of temporary migration.
Improving the Well-Being of Adolescent Girls in Developing Countries
(Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2022-10-13) Bergstrom, Katy; Özler, Berk
This paper conducts a large, narrative review of interventions that might plausibly (a) increase educational attainment, (b) delay childbearing, and/or (c) delay marriage for adolescent girls in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Using 108 interventions from 78 studies, predominantly in LMICs, the paper summarizes the performance of 15 categories of interventions in improving these outcomes. Transfer programs emerge as broadly effective in increasing educational attainment but their effects on delaying fertility and marriage remain mixed and dependent on context. Construction of schools in underserved areas and the provision of information on returns to schooling and academic performance also increase schooling. No category of interventions is found to be categorically effective in delaying pregnancies and reducing child marriages among adolescent girls. While targeted provision of sexual and reproductive health services, including vouchers and subsidies for family planning, and increasing job opportunities for women seem promising, more research is needed to evaluate the longer-term effects of such interventions. We propose that future studies should aim to measure short-term outcomes that can form good surrogates for long-term welfare gains and should collect detailed cost information.