Development Research Group
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Education, Evidence-based public policy, Inequality and shared prosperity, Jobs and poverty, Social protection and labor, Social Protection and Growth
Development Research Group
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Last updated August 31, 2023
Deon Filmer is a Lead Economist in the Research Group at the World Bank and Co-Director of the World Development Report 2018 Learning to Realize Education’s Promise. He has also previously served as Lead Economist in the Human Development department of the Africa Region of the World Bank. He works on issues of human capital and skills, service delivery, and the impact of policies and programs to improve human development outcomes—with research spanning the areas of education, health, social protection, and poverty and inequality. He has published widely in refereed journals, including studies of the impact of demand-side programs on schooling and learning; the roles of poverty, gender, orphanhood, and disability in explaining education inequalities; and the determinants of effective service delivery. He has recently co-authored the following books: Making Schools Work: New Evidence from Accountability Reforms, Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa, and From Mines and Wells to Well-Built Minds: Turning Sub-Saharan Africa's Natural Resource Wealth into Human Capital. He was a core team member of the World Bank's World Development Reports in 1995 Workers in an Integrating World and 2004 Making Services Work for Poor People, and a contributor to 2007’s report Development and the Next Generation. He holds a PhD and MA from Brown University and a BA from Tufts University.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 49
Publication(World Bank, 2009-11-30) Filmer, Deon ; Friedman, Jed ; Schady, NorbertDoes the sex composition of existing children in a family affect fertility behavior? An unusually large data set, covering 64 countries and some 5 million births, is used to show that fertility behavior responds to the presence—or absence—of sons in many regions of the developing world. The response to the absence of sons is particularly large in Central Asia and South Asia. Modernization does not appear to reduce this differential response. For example, in South Asia the fertility response to the absence of sons is larger for women with more education and has been increasing over time. The explanation appears to be that a latent demand for sons is more likely to manifest itself when fertility levels are low. As a result of this differential fertility behavior, girls tend to grow up with significantly more siblings than do boys, with potential implications for their well-being when quantity–quality tradeoffs result in fewer material and emotional resources allocated to children in larger families.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-08) Evans, David K. ; Yuan, Fei ; Filmer, DeonPay levels for public sector workers—and especially teachers—are a constant source of controversy. In many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, protests and strikes suggest that pay is low, while simple comparisons to average national income per capita suggest that it is high. This study presents data on teacher pay from 15 African countries, along with five comparator countries from other regions. The results suggest that in several (seven) countries, teachers' monthly salaries are lower than other formal sector workers with comparable levels of education and experience. However, in all of those countries, teachers report working significantly fewer hours than other workers, so that their hourly wage is higher. Teachers who report fewer hours are no more likely to report holding a second job, although teachers overall are nearly two times more likely to hold a second job than other workers. With higher national incomes, the absolute value of teacher salaries rises, but they fall as a percentage of income per capita. The study explores variation across types of teacher contracts, the association between teacher pay and student performance, and the association between teacher pay premia and other aspects of economies.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-05) Berkes, Jan ; Bouguen, Adrien ; Filmer, Deon ; Fukao, TsuyoshiEarly childhood is a critical period for growth and development. Research shows that giving young children enough nurturing and stimulating experiences during these early years not only improves their chances of success in school but can also help them succeed and be more productive later in life. Although access to preschool has increased substantially in recent years, in many low-income communities’ children don’t receive any educational services before they start primary school. In some cases, parents aren’t aware of the value of early education and might not take advantage of opportunities to enroll their children in preschool, even when services are available.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-03) Filmer, Deon ; Friedman, Jed ; Kandpal, Eeshani ; Onishi, JunkoCash transfer programs may generate significant general equilibrium effects that can detract from the anti-poverty goals of the program. Data from a randomized evaluation of a Philippine cash transfer program targeted to poor households show that a 9 percent increase in village income significantly raised the prices of perishable protein-rich foods while leaving other food prices unaffected. The price changes are largest in areas with the highest program saturation, where the shock to village income is on the order of 15 percent and persists more than 2.5 years after program introduction. Although significantly improving nutrition related outcomes among beneficiary children, the cash transfer worsened those same indicators among non-beneficiary children. The stunting rate of young non-beneficiary children increased by eleven percentage points, with even greater increases in the most saturated areas. Another potentially related spillover arises in local health markets: formal health care utilization by mothers and children also declined among non-beneficiary households. Failing to consider such local general equilibrium effects can overstate the net benefit of targeted cash transfers. In areas where individual targeting of social programs covers the majority of households, offering the program on a universal basis should avoid such negative impacts at little additional cost.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-07) Berkes, Jan ; Raikes, Abbie ; Bouguen, Adrien ; Filmer, DeonSubstantial work has demonstrated that early nutrition and home environments, including the degree to which children receive cognitive stimulation and emotional support from parents, play a profound role in influencing early childhood development. Yet, less work has documented the joint influences of parenting and nutrition status on child development among children in the preschool years living in low-income countries. Using panel data on parenting, nutrition status, and early developmental outcomes of about 7,000 Cambodian preschool-age children, this paper demonstrates that inequities in early development associated with family wealth are evident at the start of preschool and increase over time. A significant share of these inequalities can be explained by differences in parental stimulation and early nutrition status. Better educated parents engage in better parental activities that stimulate children's development. However, the positive association between parental activities and child outcomes is particularly strong for non-stunted children, and parental activities can only explain about 8-14 percent of the cognitive gap between the lowest and highest wealth quintiles. The results highlight the need for integrated interventions that address both parenting and early nutrition, also suggesting that parenting interventions for the most disadvantaged families should be carefully designed and evaluated to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-09) Filmer, Deon ; Rogers, Halsey ; Angrist, Noam ; Sabarwal, ShwetlenaThe standard summary metric of education-based human capital used in macro analyses—the average number of years of schooling in a population—is based only on quantity. But ignoring schooling quality turns out to be a major omission. As recent research shows, students in different countries who have completed the same number of years of school often have vastly different learning outcomes. This paper therefore proposes a new summary measure, Learning-Adjusted Years of Schooling (LAYS), that combines quantity and quality of schooling into a single easy-to-understand metric of progress. The cross-country comparisons produced by this measure are robust to different ways of adjusting for learning (for example, by using different international assessments or different summary learning indicators), and the assumptions and implications of LAYS are consistent with other evidence, including other approaches to quality adjustment. The paper argues that (1) LAYS improves on the standard metric, because it is a better predictor of important outcomes, and it improves incentives for policymakers; and (2) its virtues of simplicity and transparency make it a good candidate summary measure of education.
How to Improve Education Outcomes Most Efficiently? A Comparison of 150 Interventions Using the New Learning-Adjusted Years of Schooling Metric(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-10) Angrist, Noam ; Evans, David K. ; Filmer, Deon ; Glennerster, Rachel ; Rogers, F. Halsey ; Sabarwal, ShwetlenaMany low- and middle-income countries lag far behind high-income countries in educational access and student learning. Limited resources mean that policymakers must make tough choices about which investments to make to improve education. Although hundreds of education interventions have been rigorously evaluated, making comparisons between the results is challenging. Some studies report changes in years of schooling; others report changes in learning. Standard deviations, the metric typically used to report learning gains, measure gains relative to a local distribution of test scores. This metric makes it hard to judge if the gain is worth the cost in absolute terms. This paper proposes using learning-adjusted years of schooling (LAYS) -- which combines access and quality and compares gains to an absolute, cross-country standard -- as a new metric for reporting gains from education interventions. The paper applies LAYS to compare the effectiveness (and cost-effectiveness, where cost is available) of interventions from 150 impact evaluations across 46 countries. The results show that some of the most cost-effective programs deliver the equivalent of three additional years of high-quality schooling (that is, schooling at quality comparable to the highest-performing education systems) for just $100 per child -- compared with zero years for other classes of interventions.
Publication(World Bank, 2008-01-30) Filmer, DeonAnalysis of 14 household surveys from 13 developing countries suggests that 1–2 percent of the population have disabilities. Adults with disabilities typically live in poorer than average households: disability is associated with about a 10 percentage point increase in the probability of falling in the two poorest quintiles. Much of the association appears to reflect lower educational attainment among adults with disabilities. People of ages 6–17 with disabilities do not live in systematically wealthier or poorer households than other people of their age, although in all countries studied they are significantly less likely to start school or to be enrolled at the time of the survey. The order of magnitude of the school participation deficit associated with disability—which is as high as 50 percentage points in 3 of the 13 countries—is often larger than deficits related to other characteristics, such as gender, rural residence, or economic status differentials. The results suggest a worrisome vicious cycle of low schooling attainment and subsequent poverty among people with disabilities in developing countries.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-05) Filmer, Deon ; Schady, NorbertIncreasing the schooling attainment of girls is a challenge in much of the developing world. The authors evaluate the impact of a program that gives scholarships to girls making the transition between the last year of primary school and the first year of secondary school in Cambodia. They show that the scholarship program had a large, positive effect on the school enrollment and attendance of girls. Their preferred set of estimates suggests program effects on enrollment and attendance at program schools of 30 to 43 percentage points. Scholarship recipients were also more likely to be enrolled at any scchool (not just program schools) by a margin of 22 to 33 percentage points. The impact of the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) program appears to have been largest among girls with the lowest socioeconomic status at baseline. The results are robust to a variety of controls for observable differences between scholarship recipients and nonrecipients, to unobserved heterogeneity across girls, and to selective attrition out of the sample.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-12) Filmer, DeonThis paper analyzes the relationship between whether a young person has a disability, the poverty status of their household, and their school participation using 11 household surveys from nine developing countries. Between 1 and 2 percent of the population is identified as having a disability. Youth with disabilities sometimes live in poorer households, but the extent of this concentration is typically neither large nor statistically significant. However, youth with disabilities are almost always substantially less likely to start school, and in some countries have lower transition rates resulting in lower schooling attainment. The order of magnitude of the school participation disability deficit is often larger than those associated with other characteristics such as gender, rural residence, or economic status differentials.