Poverty Global Practice, The World Bank
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Poverty Global Practice, The World Bank
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Last updated January 31, 2023
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Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-01) Levy, Santiago ; Lopez-Calva, Luis FelipeOver the last two decades, Mexico has experienced macroeconomic stability, an open trade regime, and substantial progress in education. Yet average workers' earnings have stagnated, and earnings of those with higher schooling have fallen, compressing the earnings distribution and lowering the returns to education. This paper argues that distortions that misallocate resources toward less-productive firms explain these phenomena, because these firms are less intensive in well-educated workers compared with more-productive ones. It shows that while the relative supply of workers with more years of schooling has increased, misallocation of resources toward less productive firms has persisted. These two trends have generated a widening mismatch between the supply of, and the demand for, educated workers. The paper breaks down worker earnings into observable and unobservable firm and individual worker characteristics, and computes a counterfactual earnings distribution in the absence of misallocation. The main finding is that in the absence of misallocation average earnings would be higher, and that earnings differentials across schooling levels would widen, raising the returns to education. A no-misallocation path is constructed for the wage premium. Depending on parameter values, this path is found to be rising or constant, in contrast to the observed downward path. The paper concludes arguing that the persistence of misallocation impedes Mexico from taking full advantage of its investments in the education of its workforce.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-04) Bolch, Kimberly B. ; Ceriani, Lidia ; Lopez-Calva, Luis F.The 2015 United Nations resolution on Financing for Development stresses the importance of effective resource mobilization and use of domestic resources to pursue sustainable development. The first Sustainable Development Goal is to eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere by 2030. This paper proposes an accounting exercise to assess whether it is feasible for countries to eliminate poverty using only domestic resources, in other words, by mere redistribution. Moreover, the paper argues that the concentration of resources in the hands of fewer individuals in the society may hinder the feasibility of implementing effective fiscal policies (from the revenue side and the social spending side) to reduce poverty. The paper provides a new tool to assess the capacity of countries to eliminate poverty through redistribution, and a new tool to approximate the concentration of political influence in a country. The new methodologies are applied to the most recent surveys available for more than 120 developing countries. The findings show that countries with the same fiscal capacity to mobilize resources for poverty eradication differ widely in the political feasibility of such redistribution policies.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-10) Lopez-Calva, Luis F. ; Ortiz-Juarez, Eduardo ; Rodriguez-Castelan, CarlosThis paper exploits a novel municipal-level data set to explore patterns of convergence in income and poverty in Mexico during 1992-2014. The paper finds that, despite a context of overall stagnant economic growth and poverty reduction, there is evidence of income and poverty convergence at the municipal level. The findings suggest that these convergence processes stem from a combination of considerable positive performance among the poorest municipalities and stagnant and deteriorating performance among richer municipalities. Re distributive programs, such as federal transfers to poor municipalities and cash transfers to poor households, seem to have played an important role in driving these results by bolstering income growth among the poorest municipalities, while also inducing progressive changes in the distribution of income.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-01) Bando, Rosangela G. ; Lopez-Calva, Luis F. ; Patrinos, Harry AnthonyThe authors use panel data for Mexico for 1997 to 1999 to test several assumptions regarding the impact of a conditional cash transfer program on child labor, emphasizing the differential impact on indigenous households. Using data from the conditional cash transfer program in Mexico PROGRESA (OPORTUNIDADES) they investigate the interaction between child labor and indigenous households. While indigenous children had a greater probability of working in 1997, this probability is reversed after treatment in the program. Indigenous children also had lower school attainment compared with Spanish-speaking or bilingual children. After the program, school attainment among indigenous children increased, reducing the gap.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-05) Azevedo, Joao Pedro ; Lopez-Calva, Luis F. ; Perova, ElizavetaTeenage pregnancy has been a cause of concern for policy makers because it is associated with a complex and often adverse social context for women. It is seen as the cause of lower social and economic achievement for mothers and their children, and as the potential determinant of inter-generational poverty traps. However, the question of whether pregnancy -- and the subsequent rearing of a child -- is actually the trigger of poverty, higher dependence on social welfare and/ or other undesirable social and economic consequences has not been studied in developing countries with enough rigor to establish a causal relation. This paper follows a methodology previously applied in the United States, using Mexican data from the National Survey of Demographic Dynamics, to exploit information about miscarriages as an instrument to identify the long-term consequences of early child bearing. Thus, the paper takes the advantage of a natural experiment: it compares the outcomes of women who became pregnant in adolescence, and gave birth, to outcomes of women who became pregnant in adolescence and miscarried. This approach only allows for estimating the costs of adolescent childbearing for teenagers in a risk group, that is, teenagers who are likely to experience a pregnancy. The results are consistent with findings in the United States, suggesting that, contrary to popular thinking, adolescent childbearing does not hamper significantly the lifelong opportunities of the young mothers. Actually, women who gave birth during their adolescence have on average 0.34 more years of education, and are 21 percentage points more likely to be employed, compared with their counterparts who miscarried. The results also suggest, however, greater dependence on social welfare among women who gave birth during adolescence: their social assistance income is 36 percent higher, and they are more likely to participate in social programs, especially the conditional cash transfer program Oportunidades.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012) Lopez-Calva, Luis F. ; Rocha, SoniaAfter decades of persistent disparities, inequality in Brazil has fallen steadily over the last fifteen years. This robust rate of decline has surpassed the pace of the Latin American region as a whole, and is taking place as inequality rises in several rapid-growth emerging economies in other regions. This document examines the recent trend in income inequality in Brazil, its key policy drivers and some of the challenges ahead. It aims at capturing some of the lessons behind Brazil?s experience to share with other economies in the region and beyond.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-12) Enamorado, Ted ; López-Calva, Luis F. ; Rodriguez Castelan, CarlosScholars have often argued that crime deters growth, but the empirical literature assessing such effect is scarce. By exploiting cross-municipality income and crime data for Mexico -- a country that experienced a high increase in crime rates over the past decade -- this study circumvents two of the most common problems faced by researchers in this area. These are: (i) the lack of a homogenous, consistently comparable measure of crime and (ii) the small sample problem in the estimation. Combining income data from poverty maps, administrative records on crime and violence, and public expenditures data at the municipal level for Mexico (2005-2010), the analysis finds evidence indicating that drug-related crimes indeed deter growth. It also finds no evidence of a negative effect on growth from crimes unrelated to drug trafficking.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-06) Enamorado, Ted ; López-Calva, Luis-Felipe ; Rodriguez Castelan, Carlos ; Winkler, HernánThe relationship between income inequality and crime has attracted the interest of many researchers, but little convincing evidence exists on the causal effect of inequality on crime in developing countries. This paper estimates this effect in a unique context: Mexico's Drug War. The analysis takes advantage of a unique data set containing inequality and crime statistics for more than 2,000 Mexican municipalities covering a period of 20 years. Using an instrumental variable for inequality that tackles problems of reverse causality and omitted variable bias, this paper finds that an increment of one point in the Gini coefficient translates into an increase of more than 10 drug-related homicides per 100,000 inhabitants between 2006 and 2010. There are no significant effects before 2005. The fact that the effect was found during Mexico's Drug War and not before is likely because the cost of crime decreased with the proliferation of gangs (facilitating access to knowledge and logistics, lowering the marginal cost of criminal behavior), which, combined with rising inequality, increased the expected net benefit from criminal acts after 2005.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-01) Campos-Vazquez, Raymundo M. ; Lopez-Calva, Luis F. ; Lustig, NoraWage inequality has declined in Mexico since 2000. Using data from Mexican labor surveys for the period between 2000 and 2014, this paper investigates whether the decline was driven by wages declining more sharply for younger or older workers. The analysis finds that the wages of older workers declined and the decline was more pronounced in the older cohort. This would seem to support the hypothesis that older workers' skills have become obsolete.
Teenage Pregnancy and Opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean : On Teenage Fertility Decisions, Poverty and Economic Achievement(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012) Azevedo, Joao Pedro ; Favara, Marta ; Haddock, Sarah E. ; Lopez-Calva, Luis F. ; Muller, Miriam ; Perova, ElizavetaThe pregnancy project sought to expose the existence, and challenge the validity, of stereotypes about Hispanic women. The charade explored the underlying motivations of the many who responded with a wide range of reactions. The specific objectives of this regional study are: to establish a thorough description of the magnitude of the issue and its potential implications for social advancement; to advance the understanding of the risk factors, motivations and impacts at the household level-as a determinant of poverty and a cause of intra-and intergenerational poverty traps; to illuminate the coping mechanisms and their individual and social implications; to highlight the gender-related issues that have historically provoked asymmetric costs to boys and girls; and to provide elements that support specific policies on this matter. In the last decade, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have been moving in the right direction and the region has experienced important gains in gender equality of endowments (assets) and economic opportunities. In most LAC countries, girls have been achieving gender parity in primary school enrollment and even outperforming boys at the secondary and tertiary level. The present report reviews the factors associated with teenage pregnancy and early childbearing and builds a framework to explore these issues systematically, towards the design of effective policy interventions in LAC. Teen pregnancy and early childbearing remain a challenge in the region, particularly given the association of these phenomena with poverty and lack of opportunities, and the concern that it may prevent women from taking full advantage of their human development assets and opportunities. The main message of the report is that poverty and lack of opportunities are key factors associated to early childbearing.