Journal Issue: World Bank Economic Review, Volume 20, Issue 1
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The Long-Run Economic Costs of AIDS : A Model with an Application to South Africa
(Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2006-04-11)
Primarily a disease of young adults, Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) imposes economic costs that could be devastatingly high in the long run by undermining the transmission of human capital the main driver of long-run economic growth across generations. AIDS makes it harder for victims' children to obtain an education and deprives them of the love, nurturing, and life skills that parents provide. These children will in turn find it difficult to educate their children, and so on. An overlapping generations model is used to show that an otherwise growing economy could decline to a low level subsistence equilibrium if hit with an AIDS type increase in premature adult mortality. Calibrating the model for South Africa, where the HIV prevalence rate is over 20 percent, simulations reveal that the economy could shrink to half its current size in about four generations in the absence of intervention. Programs to combat the disease and to support needy families could avert such a collapse, but they imply a fiscal burden of about 4 percent of Gross domestic product (GDP).
Making Conditional Cash Transfer Programs More Efficient : Designing for Maximum Effect of the Conditionality
(Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2006-02-01)
Conditional cash transfer programs are now used extensively to encourage poor parents to increase investments in their children's human capital. These programs can be large and expensive, motivating a quest for greater efficiency through increased impact of the programs' imposed conditions on human capital formation. This requires designing the programs' targeting and calibration rules specifically to achieve this result. Using data from the Progresa randomized experiment in Mexico, this article shows that large efficiency gains can be achieved by taking into account how much the probability of a child's enrollment is affected by a conditional transfer. Rules for targeting and calibration can be made easy to implement by selecting indicators that are simple, observable, and verifiable and that cannot be manipulated by beneficiaries. The Mexico case shows that these efficiency gains can be achieved without increasing inequality among poor households.
Robust Multidimensional Spatial Poverty Comparisons in Ghana, Madagascar, and Uganda
(Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2006-04-06)
Spatial poverty comparisons are investigated in three African countries using multidimensional indicators of well-being. The work is analogous to the univariate stochastic dominance literature in that it seeks poverty orderings that are robust to the choice of multidimensional poverty lines and indices. In addition, the study seeks to ensure that the comparisons are robust to aggregation procedures for multiple welfare variables. In contrast to earlier work, the methodology applies equally well to what can be defined as union, intersection, and intermediate approaches to dealing with multidimensional indicators of well-being. Furthermore, unlike much of the stochastic dominance literature, this work computes the sampling distributions of the poverty estimators to perform statistical tests of the difference in poverty measures. The methods are applied to two measures of well-being, the log of household expenditures per capita and children's height-forage z scores, using data from the 1988 Ghana Living Standards Study survey, the 1993 National Household Survey in Madagascar, and the 1999 National Household Survey in Uganda. Bivariate poverty comparisons are at odds with univariate comparisons in several interesting ways. Most important, it cannot always be concluded that poverty is lower in urban areas in one region compared with that in rural areas in another, even though univariate comparisons based on household expenditures per capita almost always lead to that conclusion.
An Empirical Analysis of State and Private Sector Provision of Water Services in Africa
(Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2006-01-19)
Under pressure from donor agencies and international financial institutions such as the World Bank, some developing countries have experimented with the privatization of water services. This article reviews the econometric evidence on the effects of water privatization in developing economies and presents new results using statistical data envelopment analysis and stochastic cost frontier techniques and data from Africa. The analysis fails to show evidence of better performance by private utilities than by state owned utilities. Among the reasons why water privatization could prove problematic in lower-income economies are the technology of water provision and the nature of the product, transaction costs, and regulatory weaknesses.
Child Labor and School Achievement in Latin America
(Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2006-01)
Child labors effect on academic achievement is estimated using unique data on third and fourth graders in nine Latin American countries. Cross country variation in truancy regulations provides an exogenous shift in the ages of children normally in these grades, providing exogenous variation in the opportunity cost of children's time. Least squares estimates suggest that child labor lowers test scores, but those estimates are biased toward zero. Corrected estimates are still negative and statistically significant. Children working 1 standard deviation above the mean have average scores that are 16 percent lower on mathematics examinations and 11 percent lower on language examinations, consistent with the estimates of the adverse impact of child labor on returns to schooling.