Damania, Richard

Sustainable Development Practice Group, The World Bank
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Development Economics, Environmental Economics, Natural Resource Economics, Agricultural Economics, Water Economics, Game Theory
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Last updated November 29, 2023
Richard Damania is the Chief Economist of the Sustainable Development Practice Group. He has held several positions in the World Bank including as Senior Economic Advisor in the Water Practice, Lead Economist in the Africa Region’s Sustainable Development Department, in the South Asia and Latin America and Caribbean Regions of the World Bank. His work has spanned across multiple sectors and has helped the World Bank become an acknowledged thought-leader on matters relating to environment, water and the economy. Prior to joining the World Bank he held positions in academia and has published extensively with over 100 papers in scientific journals.

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 23
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    The RISE Framework
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-01-17) Balseca, Esteban ; Cuesta, Jose Antonio ; Damania, Richard ; Feng, Shenghui ; Moon, Jisung ; Rentschler, Jun ; Russ, Jason ; Triyana, Margaret ; Balseca, Esteban
    The world has witnessed unparalleled economic progress in the last three decades. But success is not preordained, and several headwinds threaten this hard fought progress. Inequality is leaving many people and subgroups behind and excluding them from enjoying the benefits of this great economic expansion. More recently, the world has awakened to the reality of a new type of risk. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) struck at a time when the world was healthier and wealthier than ever before. There is little disagreement over the need to enable a recovery that is fairer, safer, and more sustainable. This report describes how these ambitious objectives can be achieved by providing evidence based tools and information to guide countries to spend better and improve policies. It is in this context that this document presents policy guidance to identify and diagnose key development challenges and develop solutions to help countries build better.
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    Transport, Economic Growth, and Deforestation in the Democratic Republic of Congo: A Spatial Analysis
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-01-13) Damania, Richard ; Barra, Alvaro Federico ; Burnouf, Mathilde ; Russ, Jason Daniel
    The purpose of this study is to demonstrate several techniques which can be used to evaluate pathways to sustainable growth in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) via infrastructure improvement. Decades of conflict and neglect have left the DRC’s transport infrastructure amongst the sparsest and most dilapidated in the world.
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    The Nitrogen Legacy: The Long-Term Effects of Water Pollution on Human Capital
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-12-10) Zaveri, Esha ; Russ, Jason ; Desbureaux, Sebastien ; Damania, Richard ; Rodella, Aude-Sophie ; Ribeiro, Giovanna
    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 presents new evidence that nitrogen pollution in water is an important determinant of variations in human capital. Data from the Demographic and Health Survey dataset across India, Vietnam, and 33 African countries are combined to analyze the causal links between pollution exposure experienced during the very earliest stages of life and later-life health. Results show that pollution exposure experienced in the critical years of development from the period of birth up until year 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. 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.
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    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 ; Desbureaux, Sebastien ; Escurra, Jorge ; 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.
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    Resources for Sale: Corruption, Democracy and the Natural Resource Curse
    ( 2008) Bulte, Erwin ; Damania, Richard
    A puzzling piece of empirical evidence suggests that resource-abundant countries tend to grow slower than their resource-poor counterparts. We attempt to explain this phenomenon by developing a lobbying game in which rent seeking firms interact with corrupt governments. The presence or absence of political competition, as well as the potential costs of political transitions, turn out to be key elements in generating the 'resource curse.' These variables define the degree of freedom that incumbent governments have in pursuing development policies that maximize surplus in the lobbying game, but put the economy off its optimal path.
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    Does Rainfall Matter for Economic Growth? Evidence from Global Sub-National Data (1990-2014)
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-06) Damania, Richard ; Desbureaux, Sebastien ; Zaveri, Esha
    Much micro-econometric evidence suggests that precipitation has wide ranging impacts on vital economic indicators such as agricultural yields, human capital, and even conflict. And yet paradoxically most macro-econometric evidence (especially in the climate economy literature) finds that precipitation has no robust and significant impact on various measures of aggregate economic output. This paper argues that spatial aggregation of weather at the country level explains this result. The paper uses annual subnational gross domestic product data to show a concave relationship between precipitation and local gross domestic product growth between 1990 and 2014. It then demonstrates that when the data are aggregated at larger spatial scales, the impact decreases and eventually vanishes. The impact of precipitation on aggregate economic activity is predominantly felt in developing countries; it is insignificant in developed countries. Agriculture is found to be the dominant pathway. The results have significant consequences for measuring the economic impacts of climate change.
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    Trade, Standards, and the Political Economy of Genetically Modified Food
    (World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2004-09-01) Anderson, Kym ; Damania, Richard ; Jackson, Lee Ann
    A common-agency lobbying model is developed to help understand why North America and the European Union have adopted such different policies toward genetically modified (GM) food. Results show that when firms (in this case farmers) lobby policy makers to influence standards and consumers and environmentalists care about the choice of standard, it is possible that increased competition from abroad can lead to strategic incentives to raise standards, not just lower them as shown in earlier models. We show that differences in comparative advantage in the adoption of GM crops may be sufficient to explain the trans-Atlantic difference in GM policies. On the one hand, farmers in a country with a comparative advantage in GM technology can gain a strategic cost advantage by lobbying for lax controls on GM production and usage at home and abroad. On the other hand, when faced with greater competition, the optimal response of farmers in countries with a comparative disadvantage in GM adoption may be to lobby for more-stringent GM standards. Thus it is rational for producers in the EU (whose relatively small farms would enjoy less gains from the new biotechnology than broad-acre American farms) to reject GM technologies if that enables them and/or consumer and environmental lobbyists to argue for restraints on imports from GM-adopting countries. This theoretical proposition is supported by numerical results from a global general equilibrium model of GM adoption in America without and with an EU moratorium.
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    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.
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    Ecosystems : Burden or Bounty?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-05) Damania, Richard ; Scandizzo, Pasquale Lucio ; Glauber, A.J
    This paper presents a somewhat novel approach to explore the economic contribution of ecosystems. It develops linked models to capture connections between resource stocks and flows and the resulting microeconomic and macroeconomic impacts. A bioeconomic model is developed that is imbedded into a computable general equilibrium (CGE) model. Incorporating imperfect regulation, the bioeconomic model characterizes optimal policies, while the CGE model explores the economy-wide consequences of possible changes to the ecosystem. The model is parameterized and calibrated to the case of the Serengeti ecosystem which is perhaps the most intensively researched biome with a relative abundance of data. This ecosystem is also undergoing rapid change from a host of factors related to developments within and around the protected area system. The analysis identifies the contribution of the ecosystem to the economy and finds that changes in tourism and bushmeat hunting have surprisingly diffuse economy-wide impacts, that are especially large in the rural sector. To guard against overstatement, ecosystem impacts are under-stated relative to other effects. The results suggest that linkages to the natural resource sector (backward and forward multipliers) are important and neglecting these may lead to biased estimates.
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    Water, Well-Being, and the Prosperity of Future Generations
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-03) Chase, Claire ; Damania, Richard
    Water-related diseases are a major health burden for populations, especially the poor. Meeting global aspirations for poverty reduction will require addressing the global water and sanitation challenge. This discussion paper provides an overview of the poverty-related impacts of inadequate water supply and sanitation services, and highlights the new policy challenges that have emerged in a more populated, polluted, and urbanized world with finite water resources. New approaches that assure sustained changes in individual behavior, more equitable access to services, and incentives for improved water resource stewardship are needed.