Gatti, Roberta

MENA Chief Economist Office
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Last updated May 17, 2023
Roberta Gatti is the World Bank’s chief economist of the Middle East and North Africa region and former chief economist of the Human Development Practice Group, where she led the SDI and the Human Capital Index initiatives. She joined the World Bank in 1998 as a Young Professional in the Development Research Group. Her research includes theoretical and empirical contributions to labor and household economics, political economy, growth, and social inclusion. She has authored multiple World Bank flagship reports, including Jobs for Shared Prosperity and Being Fair, Faring Better. She has taught at Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University.

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
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    Child Labor : The Role of Income Variability and Access to Credit in a Cross-Section of Countries
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2002-01) Dehejia, Rajeev H. ; Gatti, Roberta
    Even though access to credit is central to child labor theoretically, little work has been done to assess its importance empirically. Dehejia and Gatti examine the link between access to credit and child labor at a cross-country level. The authors measure child labor as a country aggregate, and proxy credit constraints by the level of financial market development. These two variables display a strong negative (unconditional) relationship. The authors show that even after they control for a wide range of variables-including GDP per capita, urbanization, initial child labor, schooling, fertility, legal institutions, inequality, and openness-this relationship remains strong and statistically significant. Moreover, they find that, in the absence of developed financial markets, households resort to child labor to cope with income variability. This evidence suggests that policies aimed at increasing households' access to credit could be effective in reducing child labor.
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    Family Altruism and Incentives
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2000-12) Gatti, Roberta
    The author builds on the altruistic model of the family, to explore the strategic interaction between altruistic parents, and selfish children, when children's efforts are endogenous. If there is uncertainty about the amount of income the children will realize, and if parents have imperfect information, the children have an incentive to exert little effort, and to rely on their parent's altruistically motivated transfers. Because of this, parents face a tradeoff between the insurance that bequests implicitly provide their children, and the disincentive to work prompted by their altruism. The author shows that if parents can credibly commit to a pattern of transfers, they will choose not to compensate children in bad outcomes, as much as predicted by the standard (no uncertainty, no asymmetric information) dynastic model of the family. Alternatively, parents may choose to forgo any insurance, and offer a fixed level of bequest, to elicit greater effort from their children. The optimal transfers structure that the author derives, reconciles the predictions of the altruistic family model, with much of the existing evidence on inter-generational transfers, which suggests that parents compensate only partially, or not at all, for earnings differentials among their children. Moreover, the author shows that Ricardian equivalence holds in this setup, except when non-negativity constraints are binding.
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    Individual Attitudes Toward Corruption : Do Social Effects Matter?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2003-08) Gatti, Roberta ; Paternostro, Stefano ; Rigolini, Jamele
    Using individual-level data for 35 countries, the authors investigate the microeconomic determinants of attitudes toward corruption. They find women, employed, less wealthy, and older individuals to be more averse to corruption. The authors also provide evidence that social effects play an important role in determining individual attitudes toward corruption, as these are robustly and significantly associated with the average level of tolerance of corruption in the region. This finding lends empirical support to theoretical models where corruption emerges in multiple equilibria and suggests that "big-push" policies might be particularly effective in combating corruption.
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    Child Labor, Income Shocks, and Access to Credit
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2003-06) Beegle, Kathleen ; Dehejia, Rajeev H. ; Gatti, Roberta
    Although a growing theoretical literature points to credit constraints as an important source of inefficiently high child labor, little work has been done to assess its empirical relevance. Using panel data from Tanzania, the authors find that households respond to transitory income shocks by increasing child labor, but that the extent to which child labor is used as a buffer is lower when households have access to credit. These findings contribute to the empirical literature on the permanent income hypothesis by showing that credit-constrained households actively use child labor to smooth their income. Moreover, they highlight a potentially important determinant of child labor and, as a result, a mechanism that can be used to tackle it.
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    Decentralization and Corruption : Evidence across Countries
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2000-02) Fisman, Raymond ; Gatti, Roberta
    The relationship between decentralization of government activities and the extent of rent extraction by private parties is an important element in the recent debate on institutional design. The theoretical literature makes ambiguous predictions about this relationship, and it has remained virtually unexamined by empiricists. The authors make a first attempt at examining the issue empirically, by looking at the cross-country relationship between fiscal decentralization and corruption as measured by a number of different indices. Their estimates suggest that fiscal decentralization in government spending is significantly associated with lower corruption. Moreover, they find that the origin of a country's legal system - for example, civil versus common legal code - performs extremely well as an instrument for decentralization. The estimated relationship between decentralization, when so instrumented, and corruption is even stronger. The evidence suggests a number of interesting areas for future work, including investigating whether there are specific services for which decentralized provision has a particularly strong impact on political rent extraction, and understanding the channels through which decentralization succeeds in keeping corruption in check.
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    Striving for Better Jobs : The Challenge of Informality in the Middle East and North Africa
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-08-26) Gatti, Roberta ; Angel-Urdinola, Diego F. ; Silva, Joana ; Bodor, Andras
    Economic growth has been sustained for many years pre-crisis in the region, but this has not resulted in the creation of an adequate number of jobs and has succeeded, at best, in generating low-quality, informal jobs. The report addresses one margin of exclusion: informal employment and the vulnerabilities and lack of opportunities associated with it. The report analyzes the constraints that prevent informal workers from becoming formal and discusses policy options to effectively address these constraints. This report looks at informality through a human development angle and focuses particularly on informal employment. Informality is a complex phenomenon, comprising unpaid workers and workers without social security or health insurance coverage, small or micro-firms that operate outside the regulatory framework and large registered firms that may partially evade corporate taxes and social security contributions. The first section provides a detailed profile of informal workers in the region. The second section describes the characteristics of informality in micro-firms that operate outside the regulatory framework and in larger firms that do not fully comply with social security contribution requirements and tax obligations. The third section presents informality and the firm. The fourth section focuses on informality: choice or exclusion? The fifth section discusses policy options for effectively expanding coverage of health insurance and pension systems and promoting the creation of better quality jobs.
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    Informality among Formal Firms : Firm-level, Cross-country Evidence on tax Compliance and Access to Credit
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-01-01) Gatti, Roberta ; Honorati, Maddalena
    The authors use firm-level, cross-county data from Investment Climate surveys in 49 developing countries to investigate an important channel through which informality can affect productivity: access to credit and external finance. Informality is measured as self-reported lack of tax compliance in a sample of registered firms that also answered questions on a large set of other characteristics. The authors find that more tax compliance is significantly associated with more access to credit both in OLS and in country fixed effects estimates. In particular, the link between credit and formality is stronger in high-formality countries. This suggests that firms' balance sheets are relatively more informative for financial institutions in environments where signal extraction is a less noisy process. The authors' results are robust to the inclusion of a wide array of correlates and to two-stage estimation.