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 - 8 of 8
Autonomy, Participation, and Learning in Argentine Schools : Findings and Their Implications for Decentralization(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2002-01) Eskeland, Gunnar S. ; Filmer, DeonAccording to a theoretical model, school autonomy and parental participation in schools, can increase student learning through separate channels. Greater school autonomy increases the rent that can be distributed among stakeholders in the school, while institutions for parental participation (such as school board) empower parents to command a larger share of this surplus - for example, through student learning. Using a rich cross-sectional data set from Argentine schools (sixth and seventh grades), the authors find that autonomy, and participation raise student test scores for a given level of inputs, in a multiplicative way, consistent with the model. Autonomy has a direct effect on learning (but not for very low levels of participation), while participation affects learning only through the mediation of the effect of autonomy. The results are robust to a variety of robustness checks, and for sub-samples of children from poor households, children of uneducated mothers, schools with low mean family wealth, and public schools. It is possible that autonomy, and participation are endogenously determined, and that this biases the results - the data available do not allow this to be ruled out with certainty. Plausible predicators of autonomy, and participation are also plausible predicators of test scores, and they fail tests for the over-identifying restrictions. Heuristically argued, however, the potential for correlation with unobserved variables may be limited: the data set is rich in observed variables, and autonomy and participation show very low correlation with observed variables. Subject to these caveats, the results may be relevant to decentralization in two ways. First, as decentralization moves responsibility from the central, toward the provincial or local government, the results should be directly relevant if the decentralization increases autonomy, and participation in schools. Second, if the results are interpreted as representing a more general effect of moving decision-making toward users, and the local community, the results are relevant even if little happens to autonomy, and participation in schools. More important, perhaps, the authors illustrate empirically the importance of knowing who is empowered when higher levels of government loosen control.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2002-03) Filmer, DeonThe author empirically explores the relationship between household poverty and the incidence and treatment of fever--as an indicator of malaria--among children in Sub-Saharan Africa. He uses household Demographic and Health Survey data collected in the 1990s from 22 countries in which malaria is prevalent. The analysis reveals a positive, but weak, association between reported fever and poverty. The geographic association becomes insignificant, however, after controlling for the mother's education. There is some evidence that higher levels of wealth in other households in the cluster in which the household lives are associated with lower levels of reported fever in Eastern and Southern Africa. Poverty and the type of care sought for an episode of fever are significantly associated: wealthier households are substantially more likely to seek care in the modern health sector. In Central and Western Africa those from richer households are more likely to seek care from all types of sources: government hospitals, lower-level public facilities such as health clinics, as well as private sources. In Eastern and Southern Africa the rich are primarily more likely to seek care from private facilities. In both regions there is substantial use of private facilities--use that increases with wealth. Like the incidence of fever, treatment-seeking behavior is strongly associated with the level of wealth in the cluster in which the child lives.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2004-06) Filmer, DeonIncreasing the supply of schools is commonly advocated as a policy intervention to promote schooling. Analysis of the relationship between the school enrollment of 6 to 14 year olds and the distance to primary and secondary schools in 21 rural areas in low-income countries (including some of the poorest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa) reveals that the two are often statistically significantly related. However, the magnitudes of the associations are small. Simulating big reductions in distance yields only small increases in average school participation, and only small reductions in within-country inequality. The data are mostly cross-sectional and therefore it is difficult to assess the degree to which results might be driven by endogenous school placement. Data can be geographically matched over time in three of the study countries and under some assumptions the results from these countries are consistent with no substantial bias in the cross-sectional estimates. Although increasing school availability by decreasing the average distance to schools can be a tool for increasing enrollments, it cannot be expected to have a substantial effect. Other interventions, such as those geared toward increasing the demand for schooling or increasing the quality of schooling should be prioritized.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2002-01) Filmer, Deon ; Hammer, Jeffrey S. ; Pritchett, Lant H.This article presents an approach to public policy in health that comes directly from the literature on public economics. It identifies two characteristic market failures in health. The first is the existence of large externalities in the control of many infectious diseases that are mostly addressed by standard public health interventions. The second is the widespread breakdown of insurance markets that leave people exposed to catastrophic financial losses. Other essential considerations in setting priorities in health are the degree to which policies address poverty and inequality and the practicality of implementing policies given limited administrative capacities. Priorities based on these criteria tend to differ substantially from those commonly prescribed by the international community.
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, 2002-09) Ainsworth, Martha ; Filmer, DeonThe authors analyze the relationship between orphan status, household wealth, and child school enrollment using data collected in the 1990s from 28 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and one country in Southeast Asia. The findings point to considerable diversity—so much so that generalizations are not possible. While there are some examples of large differentials in enrollment by orphan status, in the majority of cases the orphan enrollment gap is dwarfed by the gap between children from richer and poorer households. In some cases, even non-orphaned children from the top of the wealth distribution have low enrollments, pointing to fundamental issues in the supply or demand for schooling that are a constraint to higher enrollments of all children. The gap in enrollment between female and male orphans is not much different than the gap between girls and boys with living parents, suggesting that female orphans are not disproportionately affected in terms of their enrollment in most countries. These diverse findings demonstrate that the extent to which orphans are under-enrolled relative to other children is country-specific, at least in part because the correlation between orphan status and poverty is not consistent across countries. Social protection and schooling policies need to assess the specific country situation before considering mitigation measures.
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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2000-01) Filmer, DeonUsing internationally comparable household data sets (Demographic and Health Surveys), the author investigates how gender and wealth interact to generate within country inequalities in educational enrollment and attainment. He carries out multivariate analysis to assess the partial relationship between educational outcomes and gender, wealth, household characteristics (including level of education of adults, in the households), and community characteristics (including the presence of schools in the community). He finds that: 1) women are at a great educational disadvantage in countries in South Asia and North, Western, and Central Africa. 2) Gender gaps are large in a subset of countries, but wealth gaps are large in almost all of the countries studied. Moreover, in some countries where there is a heavy female disadvantage in enrollment (Egypt, India, Morocco, Niger, and Pakistan), wealth interacts with gender to exacerbate the gap in the educational outcomes. In India, for example, where there is a 2.5 percentage point difference between male and female enrollment for children from the richest households, the difference is 34 percentage points for children from the poorest households. 3) The education level of adults in the household has a significant impact on the enrollment of children in all the countries studied, even after controlling for wealth. The effect of the educational level of adult female is larger than that of the education level of adult males in some, but not all, of the countries studied. 4) The presence of a primary and a secondary school in the community has a significant relationship with enrollment in some countries only (notably in Western and Central Africa). The relationship appears not to systematically differ by children's gender.