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 18
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-07) Barrera-Osorio, Felipe ; Filmer, DeonThis paper evaluates a primary school scholarship program in Cambodia with two different targeting mechanisms, one based on poverty level and the other on baseline test scores ("merit"). Both targeting mechanisms increased enrollment and attendance. However, only the merit-based targeting induced positive effects on test scores. The paper shows that the asymmetry of response is unlikely to have been driven by differences between recipients' characteristics. Higher student and family effort among beneficiaries of the merit-based scholarships suggest that the framing of the scholarship mattered for impact. The results suggest that in order to balance equity and efficiency, a two-step targeting approach might be preferable: first, target low-income individuals, and then, among them, target based on merit.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-07) Bouguen, Adrien ; Filmer, Deon ; Macours, Karen ; Naudeau, SophieScaling up early childhood development services has the potential to increase children's cognitive and socio-emotional development and promote school readiness in a large segment of the population. This study used a randomized controlled trial approach to evaluate three scaled-up programs designed to widen access to early childhood development services: formal preschools, community preschools, and home-based services. The impacts of all three programs fell short of expectations because of two key flaws in how they were scaled up. First, implementation did not receive due attention; as a result, school facilities were not completed as planned, community-based programs were not always established, and low, irregular stipends created difficulties in hiring and retaining teachers. Second, the services that were available were not promoted and thus not used as widely as anticipated. The results imply that the quality of programs supplied is critical, as is attention to the demand side of the problem. The finding that these programs fell short of expectations does not mean that interventions such as these are ineffective. Rather, it indicates that quality and demand require careful attention in attempts to scale up early childhood development interventions, and any problems should be addressed prior to evaluating effectiveness.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2001-06) Filmer, Deon ; Lindauer, David L.Government officials and polcy analysts maintain that Indonesia's civil servants are poorly paid and have been for decades. This conclusion is supported by anecdotal evidence and casual empiricism. The authors systematically analyze the realtionship between government and private compensation levels using data from two large household surveys carried out by Indonesia's Central Bureau of Statistics: the 1998 Sakernas and 1999 Susenas. The results suggest that government workers with a high school education or less, representing three-quarters of the civil service, earn a pay premium over their private sector counterparts. Civil servants with more than a high school education earn less than they would in the private sector but, on average, the premium is far smaller than commonly is alleged and is in keeping with public/private differentials in other countries. These results prove robust to varying econometric specifications and cast doubt on low pay as an explanation for government corruption.
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(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2012) de Walque, Damien ; Filmer, DeonThe authors combine data from 84 Demographic and Health Surveys from 46 countries to analyze trends and socioeconomic differences in adult mortality, calculating mortality based on the sibling mortality reports collected from female respondents aged 15-49. The analysis yields four main findings. First, adult mortality is different from child mortality: while under-5 mortality shows a definite improving trend over time, adult mortality does not, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. The second main finding is the increase in adult mortality in Sub-Saharan African countries. The increase is dramatic among those most affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Mortality rates in the highest HIV-prevalence countries of southern Africa exceed those in countries that experienced episodes of civil war. Third, even in Sub-Saharan countries where HIV-prevalence is not as high, mortality rates appear to be at best stagnating, and even increasing in several cases. Finally, the main socioeconomic dimension along which mortality appears to differ in the aggregate is gender. Adult mortality rates in Sub-Saharan Africa have risen substantially higher for men than for women--especially so in the high HIV-prevalence countries. On the whole, the data do not show large gaps by urban/rural residence or by school attainment.
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.
Republic of Indonesia - Information, Knowledge, and Behavior: Evaluating Alternative Methods of Delivering School Information to Parents(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-04-27) Cerdan-Infantes, Pedro ; Filmer, DeonImproving education outcomes by disseminating information to parents and thereby encouraging them to become more actively engaged in school oversight is attractive since it can be done relatively cheaply. This study evaluates the impact of alternative approaches to disseminating information about a school grants program in Indonesia on parent knowledge about the program in general, knowledge about the implementation of the program in their child’s school, and participation in school activities related to the program as well as beyond it. Not all dissemination approaches yielded impacts, and different modes of dissemination conveyed different types of information best, resulting in different impacts on behavior. Specifically, the low-intensity approaches that were tried - sending a letter from the principal home with the child, or sending a colorful pamphlet home with the child - had no impact on knowledge or participation. On the other hand, holding a facilitated meeting with a range of school stakeholders or sending targeted short message services (SMSs) to parents did increase knowledge and participation. Facilitated meetings mostly increased overall knowledge and fostered a feeling of transparency on the part of parents, which resulted in greater participation in formal channels for providing feedback to the school. SMSs increased knowledge about specific aspects of the program, such as the grant amount, and tended to increase participation through informal channels.
Information, Knowledge and Behavior: Evaluating Alternative Methods of Delivering School Information to Parents(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-04) Cerdan-Infantes, Pedro ; Filmer, Deon P.Improving education outcomes by disseminating information to parents and thereby encouraging them to become more actively engaged in school oversight is attractive, since it can be done relatively cheaply. This study evaluates the impact of alternative approaches to disseminating information about a school grants program in Indonesia on parents knowledge about the program in general, knowledge about the implementation of the program in their childs school, and participation in school activities related to the program as well as beyond it. Not all dissemination approaches yielded impacts, and different modes of dissemination conveyed different types of information best, resulting in different impacts on behavior. Specifically, the low-intensity approaches that were tried—sending a letter from the principal home with the child, or sending a colorful pamphlet home with the child—had no impact on knowledge or participation. On the other hand, holding a facilitated meeting with a range of school stakeholders or sending targeted text messages to parents did increase knowledge and participation. Facilitated meetings mostly increased overall knowledge and fostered a feeling of transparency on the part of parents, which resulted in greater participation in formal channels for providing feedback to the school. The text messages increased knowledge about specific aspects of the program, such as the grant amount, and tended to increase participation through informal channels.
Publication( 2009-07-01) Ferreira, Francisco H.G. ; Filmer, Deon ; Schady, NorbertConditional cash transfers have been adopted by a large number of countries in the past decade. Although the impacts of these programs have been studied extensively, understanding of the economic mechanisms through which cash and conditions affect household decisions remains incomplete. This paper uses evidence from a program in Cambodia, where eligibility varied substantially among siblings in the same household, to illustrate these effects. A model of schooling decisions highlights three different effects of a child-specific conditional cash transfer: an income effect, a substitution effect, and a displacement effect. The model predicts that such a conditional cash transfer will increase enrollment for eligible children - due to all three effects - but have an ambiguous effect on ineligible siblings. The ambiguity arises from the interaction of a positive income effect with a negative displacement effect. These predictions are shown to be consistent with evidence from Cambodia, where the child-specific program makes modest transfers, conditional on school enrollment for children of middle-school age. Scholarship recipients were more than 20 percentage points more likely to be enrolled in school and 10 percentage points less likely to work for pay. However, the school enrollment and work of ineligible siblings was largely unaffected by the program.
Publication( 2009-07-01) Filmer, Deon ; Schady, NorbertThere is a strong association between schooling attained and test scores in many settings. If this association is causal, one might expect that programs that increase school enrollment and attainment would also improve test scores. However, if there is self-selection into school based on expected gains, marginal children brought into school by such programs may be drawn disproportionately from the left-hand side of the ability distribution, which could limit the extent to which additional schooling translates into more learning. To test this proposition, this paper uses data from Cambodia. The results show that a program that provides scholarships to poor students had a large effect on school enrollment and attendance, which increased by approximately 25 percentage points. However, there is no evidence that, 18 months after the scholarships were awarded, recipient children did any better on mathematics and vocabulary tests than they would have in the absence of the program. The paper discusses results that suggest that the self-selection of lower-ability students into school in response to the program is an important part of the explanation. The analysis also shows minimal program effects on other outcomes, including knowledge of health practices, expectations about the future, and adolescent mental health.