Person:
Russ, Jason

Office of the Chief Economist of the Sustainable Development Practice, The World Bank
Loading...
Profile Picture
Author Name Variants
Fields of Specialization
Economics of Development, Environment, Water economics
Degrees
Externally Hosted Work
Contact Information
Last updated: May 3, 2023
Biography
Jason Russ is a Senior Economist in the Office of the Chief Economist of the Sustainable Development Practice at the World Bank. His professional interests center on using econometrics and data analytics to diagnose development challenges, and quantify the economic and social impacts of environmental externalities. His tenure at the World Bank includes five years in the Water Global Practice where he helped to develop and coordinate the analytical work program of the Economics Global Solutions Group, including authoring many of its global flagship reports. He has authored numerous publications in academic journals largely related to environmental and development economics. Prior to joining the World Bank he was an analyst at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from George Washington University.
Citations 4 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 21
  • Publication
    Transport Infrastructure and Welfare: An Application to Nigeria
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-05) Ali, Rubaba; Barra, Alvaro Federico; Berg, Claudia N.; Damania, Richard; Nash, John; Russ, Jason
    Transport infrastructure is deemed to be central to development and consumes a large fraction of the development assistance envelope. Yet there is debate about the economic impact of road projects. This paper proposes an approach to assess the differential development impacts of alternative road construction and prioritize various proposals, using Nigeria as a case study. Recognizing that there is no perfect measure of economic well-being, a variety of outcome metrics are used, including crop revenue, livestock revenue, non-agricultural income, the probability of being multi-dimensionally poor, and local gross domestic product for Nigeria. Although the measure of transport is the most accurate possible, it is still endogenous because of the nonrandom placement of road infrastructure. This endogeneity is addressed using a seemingly novel instrumental variable termed the natural path: the time it would take to walk along the most logical route connecting two points without taking into account other, bias-causing economic benefits. Further, the analysis considers the potential endogeneity from nonrandom placement of households and markets through carefully chosen control variables. It finds that reducing transportation costs in Nigeria will increase crop revenue, non-agricultural income, the wealth index, and local gross domestic product. Livestock sales increase as well, although this finding is less robust. The probability of being multi-dimensionally poor will decrease. The results also cast light on income diversification and structural changes that may arise. These findings are robust to relaxing the exclusion restriction. The paper also demonstrates how to prioritize alternative road programs by comparing the expected development impacts of alternative New Partnership for Africas Development projects.
  • Publication
    Highways to Success or Byways to Waste: Estimating the Economic Benefits of Roads in Africa
    (Washington, DC: World Bank; and Agence Française de Développement, 2015-10) Ali, Rubaba; Barra, A. Federico; Berg, Claudia; Damania, Richard; Nash, John; Russ, Jason
    Roads are the arteries through which the world’s economies pulse. Roads connect sellers to markets, workers to jobs, students to education, and the sick to hospitals. Yet in much of the developing world—and particularly in Africa—adequate roads are lacking. Accordingly, investment in transportation remains a key strategy for development agencies. Roughly $6.8 billion per year is spent in Sub-Saharan Africa on paving roads, and the World Bank invests more on roads than on education, health, and social services combined. Despite the large sums spent on transportation, there have been no assessments to determine whether these significant investments help or hinder outcomes, and the methodologies for evaluating which road projects to fund or not to fund have been disjointed and unreliable. Highways to Success or Byways to Waste: Estimating the Economic Benefits of Roads in Africa hopes to establish a new methodology for prioritizing funding that can be applied to diverse scenarios, regions, and projects. This book demonstrates how modern econometrics and geospatial techniques can be combined to analyze the latest available geo-referenced datasets at the smallest possible scale to answer some of the most important questions in development. Aimed at researchers from across the spectrum of international development, this book seeks to be a reference guide for all who seek new tools and insights into the many issues, both technical and nontechnical, of this important field.
  • Publication
    Salt of the Earth: Quantifying the Impact of Water Salinity on Global Agricultural Productivity
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-02) Desbureaux, Sebastien; Russ, Jason; Escurra, Jorge; Zaveri, Esha; Damania, Richard; Rodella, Aude-Sophie
    Salinity in surface waters is on the rise throughout much of the world. Many factors contribute to this change, including increased water extraction, poor irrigation management, and sea-level rise. To date no study has attempted to quantify the impacts on global food production. This paper develops a plausibly causal model to test the sensitivity of global and regional agricultural productivity to changes in water salinity. To do so, it utilizes several local and global data sets on water quality and agricultural productivity and a model that isolates the impact of exogenous changes in water salinity on yields. The analysis trains a machine-learning model to predict salinity globally, to simulate average global food losses over 2000-13. These losses are found to be high, in the range of the equivalent of 124 trillion kilocalories, or enough to feed more than 170 million people every day, each year. Global maps building on these results show that pockets of high losses occur on all continents, but the losses can be expected to be particularly problematic in regions already experiencing malnutrition challenges.
  • Publication
    Salt of the Earth: Quantifying the Impact of Water Salinity on Global Agricultural Productivity
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-12-10) Russ, Jason; Damania, Richard; Rodella, Aude-Sophie; Zaveri, Esha
    Salinity in surface waters is on the rise throughout much of the world. Many factors contribute to this change including increased water extraction, poor irrigation management, and sea-level rise. To date no study has attempted to quantify impacts on global food production. In this paper we develop a plausibly causal model to test the sensitivity of global and regional agricultural productivity to changes in water salinity. To do so, we utilize several local and global datasets on water quality and agricultural productivity and a model which isolates the impact of exogenous changes in water salinity on yields. We then train a machine learning model to predict salinity globally in order to simulate average global food losses from 2000-2013. These losses are found to be high, in the range of the equivalent of 124 trillion kilocalories, or enough to feed over 170 million people every day, each year. Global maps building on these results show that pockets of high losses occur on all continents but can be expected to be particularly problematic in regions already experiencing malnutrition challenges.
  • Publication
    Detox Development: Repurposing Environmentally Harmful Subsidies
    (Washington, DC : World Bank, 2023-06-15) Damania, Richard; Balseca, Esteban; de Fontaubert, Charlotte; Gill, Joshua; Kim, Kichan; Rentschler, Jun; Russ, Jason; Zaveri, Esha
    Clean air, land, and oceans are critical for human health and nutrition and underpin much of the world’s economy. Yet they suffer from degradation, poor management, and overuse due to government subsidies. "Detox Development: Repurposing Environmentally Harmful Subsidies" examines the impact of subsidies on these foundational natural assets. Explicit and implicit subsidies—estimated to exceed US$7 trillion per year—not only promote inefficiencies but also cause much environmental harm. Poor air quality is responsible for approximately 1 in 5 deaths globally. And as the new analyses in this report show, a significant number of these deaths can be attributed to fossil fuel subsidies. Agriculture is the largest user of land worldwide, feeding the world and employing 1 billion people, including 78 percent of the world’s poor. But it is subsidized in ways that promote inefficiency, inequity, and unsustainability. Subsidies are shown to drive the deterioration of water quality and increase water scarcity by incentivizing overextraction. In addition, they are responsible for 14 percent of annual deforestation, incentivizing the production of crops that are cultivated near forests. These subsidies are also implicated in the spread of zoonotic and vector-borne diseases, especially malaria. Finally, oceans support the world’s fisheries and supply about 3 billion people with almost 20 percent of their protein intake from animals. Yet they are in a collective state of crisis, with more than 34 percent of fisheries overfished, exacerbated by open-access regimes and capacity-increasing subsidies. Although the literature on subsidies is large, this report fills significant knowledge gaps using new data and methods. In doing so, it enhances understanding of the scale and impact of subsidies and offers solutions to reform or repurpose them in efficient and equitable ways. The aim is to enhance understanding of the magnitude, consequences, and drivers of policy successes and failures in order to render reforms more achievable.
  • Publication
    The Nitrogen Legacy: The Long-Term Effects of Water Pollution on Human Capital
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-02) Desbureaux, Sebastien; Zaveri, Esha; Russ, Jason; Ribeiro, Giovanna; Damania, Richard; Rodella, Aude-Sophie
    The fallout of nitrogen pollution is considered one of the largest global externalities facing the world, impacting air, water, soil, and human health. This paper combines data from the Demographic and Health Survey data set across India, Vietnam, and 33 African countries to analyze the causal links between pollution exposure experienced during the very earliest stages of life and later-life health. The results show that pollution exposure experienced in the critical years of development—from birth until age three—is associated with decreased height as an adult, a well-known indicator of overall health and productivity, and is robust to several statistical checks. Because adult height is related to education, labor productivity, and income, this also implies a loss of earning potential. The analysis begins within an assessment in India, where the data are more available, and is then extended to geographic settings including Vietnam and 33 countries in Africa. The results are consistent and show that early-life exposure to nitrogen pollution in water can lower height-for-age scores during childhood in Vietnam and during infancy in Africa. These findings add to the evidence on the enduring consequences of water pollution and identify a critical area for policy intervention.
  • Publication
    Ebb and Flow, Volume 2: Water in the Shadow of Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2021-08-23) Borgomeo, Edoardo; Zaveri, Esha; Russ, Jason; Khan, Amjad; Damania, Richard
    The Middle East and North Africa Region encapsulates many of the issues surrounding water and human mobility. It is the most water-scarce region in the world and is experiencing unprecedented levels of forced displacement. Ebb and Flow: Volume 2. Water in the Shadow of Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa examines the links between water risks (harmful outcomes related to water, from droughts and floods to lack of sanitation), conflict, and forced displacement. It aims to better explain how to address the vulnerabilities of forcibly displaced persons and their host communities, and to identify water policy and investment responses. Contrary to common belief, the report finds that the evidence linking water risks with conflict and forced displacement in the region is not unequivocal. Water risks are more frequently related to cooperation than to conflict at both domestic and international levels. But while conflict is not necessarily a consequence of water risks, the reverse is a real and concerning phenomenon: conflict amplifies water risks. Since 2011, there have been at least 180 instances of intentional targeting of water infrastructure in conflicts in Gaza, Libya, the Syrian Arab Republic, and the Republic of Yemen. Forcibly displaced persons and their host communities face myriad water risks. Access to safe drinking water is a daily struggle for millions of forcibly displaced Iraqis, Libyans, Palestinians, Syrians, Yemenis, and international migrants in the region, heightening public health risks. Tanker trucks often help fill the gap; however, significant issues of water quality, reliability, and affordability remain. Host communities also face localized declines in water availability and quality as well as unplanned burdens on water services following the arrival of forcibly displaced persons. The reality of protracted forced displacement requires a shift from humanitarian support toward a development approach for water security, including structured yet flexible planning to deliver water services and sustain water resources for forcibly displaced persons and their host communities.
  • Publication
    Nature's Frontiers: Achieving Sustainability, Efficiency, and Prosperity with Natural Capital
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-06-27) Damania, Richard; Polasky, Stephen; Ruckelshaus, Mary; Russ, Jason; Amann, Markus; Chaplin-Kramer, Rebecca; Gerber, James; Hawthorne, Peter; Heger, Martin Philipp; Mamun, Saleh; Ruta, Giovanni; Schmitt, Rafael; Smith, Jeffrey; Vogl, Adrian; Wagner, Fabian; Zaveri, Esha
    The great expansion of economic activity since the end of World War II has caused an unprecedented rise in living standards, but it has also caused rapid changes in earth systems. Nearly all types of natural capital—the world’s stock of resources and services provided by nature—are in decline. Clean air, abundant and clean water, fertile soils, productive fisheries, dense forests, and healthy oceans are critical for healthy lives and healthy economies. Mounting pressures, however, suggest that the trend of declining natural capital may cast a long shadow into the future. "Nature’s Frontiers: Achieving Sustainability, Efficiency, and Prosperity with Natural Capital" presents a novel approach to address these foundational challenges of sustainability. A methodology combining innovative science, new data sources, and cutting-edge biophysical and economic models builds sustainable resource efficiency frontiers to assess how countries can sustainably use their natural capital more efficiently. The analysis provides recommendations on how countries can better use their natural capital to achieve their economic and environ mental goals. The report indicates that significant efficiency gaps exist in nearly every country. Closing these gaps can address many of the world’s pressing economic and environmental problems—economic productivity, health, food and water security, and climate change. Although the approach outlined in this report will entail demanding policy reforms, the costs of inaction will be far higher.
  • Publication
    Economic Boom or Ecologic Doom?: Using Spatial Analysis to Reconcile Road Development with Forest Conservation
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2016-05-20) Barra, Alvaro Federico; Burnouf, Mathilde; Damania, Richard; Russ, Jason
    The natural endowment of the Democrat Republic of Congo, in the form of land, minerals, and forests, is unparalleled. The right mix of policies has the potential to unleash incentives that could transform the economy. However, transport infrastructure in the DRC is amongst the sparsest and most dilapidated in the world, and this lack of infrastructure is likely a significant constraint to growth. This work considerably advances the information that is available to infrastructure planners, and provides methodologies that could be used to make more informed decisions to identify trade-offs between economic growth and environmental endangerment. The approach draws from the state-of the art across a variety of disciplines – spatial (GIS) analysis, spatial econometrics, economic theory, and conservation biology – to create an approach that can guide the location and level of investments by estimating benefits and environmental costs at a highly disaggregated spatial scale. The analysis proceeds in four related phases that combine economic assessments with geospatial analysis. First transport costs are estimated using GIS techniques. A variety of econometric procedures are then used to determine the economic effects of changing transport costs. Second, highly disaggregated spatial data is used to estimate the effects of roads on forest cover, and the resulting biodiversity that would be at risk from local deforestation. Next the two spatial estimates are combined to simulate the effects of different policies. Finally this provides a series of maps that identify regions where there are large trade-offs between economic and ecological goals. Overall the results suggests that the siting of infrastructure needs to consider impacts at the very outset of the planning process. This report presents both new data and new techniques that can be used to identify areas of opportunity, risk, and potential for REDD+ financing. Such upstream planning has been rendered both feasible and cost effective with the availability of geo-referenced information on forest cover and economic data. This report provides the data and easily comprehensible maps for such an exercise.
  • Publication
    Infrastructure in Conflict-Prone and Fragile Environments: Evidence from the Democratic Republic of Congo
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-05) Ali, Rubaba; Barra, A. Federico; Berg, Claudia N.; Damania, Richard; Nash, John D.; Russ, Jason; Russ, Jason
    In conflict-prone situations, access to markets is necessary to restore economic growth and generate the preconditions for peace and reconstruction. Hence, the rehabilitation of damaged transport infrastructure has emerged as an overarching investment priority among donors and governments. This paper brings together two distinct strands of literature on the effects of conflict on welfare and on the economic impact of transport infrastructure. The theoretical model explores how transport infrastructure affects conflict incidence and welfare when selection into rebel groups is endogenous. The implications of the model are tested with data from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The analysis addresses the problems of the endogeneity of transport costs and conflict using a novel set of instrumental variables. For transport costs, a new instrument is developed, the natural-historical path, which measures the most efficient travel route to a market, taking into account topography, land cover, and historical caravan routes. Recognizing the imprecision in measuring the geographic impacts of conflict, the analysis develops a spatial kernel density function to proxy for the incidence of conflict. To account for its endogeneity, it is instrumented with ethnic fractionalization and distance to the eastern border. A variety of indicators of well-being are used: a wealth index, a poverty index, and local gross domestic product. The results suggest that, in most situations, reducing transport costs has the expected beneficial impacts on all the measures of welfare. However, when there is intense conflict, improvements in infrastructure may not have the anticipated benefits. The results suggest the need for more nuanced strategies that take into account varying circumstances and consider actions that jointly target governance with construction activities.