MENA Chief Economist Office
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Fields of Specialization
LABOR ECONOMICS, POLITICAL ECONOMY, SOCIAL INCLUSION, ECONOMIC GROWTH
MENA Chief Economist Office
Externally Hosted Work
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 - 10 of 14
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2002-01) Dehejia, Rajeev H. ; Gatti, RobertaEven 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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2000-12) Gatti, RobertaThe 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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2003-06) Beegle, Kathleen ; Dehejia, Rajeev H. ; Gatti, RobertaAlthough 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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-07) Beegle, Kathleen ; Dehejia, Rajeev H. ; Gatti, Roberta ; Krutikova, SofyaThis paper exploits a unique longitudinal data set from Tanzania to examine the consequences of child labor on education, employment choices, and marital status over a 10-year horizon. Shocks to crop production and rainfall are used as instrumental variables for child labor. For boys, the findings show that a one-standard-deviation (5.7 hour) increase in child labor leads 10 years later to a loss of approximately one year of schooling and to a substantial increase in the likelihood of farming and of marrying at a younger age. Strikingly, there are no significant effects on education for girls, but there is a significant increase in the likelihood of marrying young. The findings also show that crop shocks lead to an increase in agricultural work for boys and instead lead to an increase in chore hours for girls. The results are consistent with education being a lower priority for girls and/or with chores causing less disruption for education than agricultural work. The increased chore hours could also account for the results on marriage for girls.
Why Should We Care About Child Labor? The Education, Labor Market, and Health Consequences of Child Labor(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-01) Beegle, Kathleen ; Dehejia, Rajeev ; Gatti, RobertaAlthough there is extensive literature on the determinants of child labor and many initiatives aimed at combating it, there is limited evidence on the consequences of child labor on socioeconomic outcomes such as education, wages, and health. The authors evaluate the causal effect of child labor participation on these outcomes using panel data from Vietnam and an instrumental variables strategy. Five years subsequent to the child labor experience, they find significant negative effects on school participation and educational attainment, but also find substantially higher earnings for those (young) adults who worked as children. The authors find no significant effects on health. Over a longer horizon, they estimate that from age 30 onward the forgone earnings attributable to lost schooling exceed any earnings gain associated with child labor and that the net present discounted value of child labor is positive for discount rates of 11.5 percent or higher. The authors show that child labor is prevalent among households likely to have higher borrowing costs, that are farther from schools, and whose adult members experienced negative returns to their own education. This evidence suggests that reducing child labor will require facilitating access to credit and will also require households to be forward looking.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2011-12) Gatti, Roberta ; Angel-Urdinola, Diego F. ; Silva, Joana ; Bodor, AndrasThis quick note provides an overview of the World Bank report striving for better jobs: the challenge of informality in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The report was completed as a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests swept across the Arab world. Millions of young people were chanting 'dignity' and 'social justice' in the region, underlining deep-seated feelings of exclusion and inequality of opportunities. Demanding democracy, human rights, and better governance, young Arabs were also striving to realize their economic aspirations in a region rich in human and physical capital. However, while there has been economic growth for a number of years in MENA countries, this has not led to an adequate number of good jobs and has succeeded, at best, in generating low-quality, informal jobs.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2010-09) Brodmann, Stefanie ; Pouget, Yann ; Gatti, RobertaIncreased labor mobility bears large potential benefits for human development and poverty reduction through various channels including more competitive global labor markets and increased efficiency in the matching of skills supply and demand. Bank support for enhanced and better managed migration can complement broader efforts to reduce poverty and promote human development, similarly to how Bank projects on trade liberalization have helped in reducing market distortions and raise welfare. With Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries becoming increasingly eager to adopt a proactive approach to improve migration outcomes, cross-sectoral Bank teams are well positioned to respond to increasing demand for migration management systems. Labor mobility has proven to be a forceful driver of convergence in living standards. Estimates suggest that gains from the liberalization of migration could surpass welfare gains from trade liberalization. Currently, migration represents the main form of global and regional integration for MENA countries. In the future, increased labor mobility could foster regional economic integration, a recognized priority within the Arab World Initiative (AWI).
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-08-26) Gatti, Roberta ; Angel-Urdinola, Diego F. ; Silva, Joana ; Bodor, AndrasEconomic 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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-01) Gatti, Roberta ; Mohpal, AakashThis paper compiles project-level data from the World Bank's lending history to describe patterns and the composition of its portfolio. The paper focuses particularly on the effect of countries' transition from International Development Association to International Bank for Reconstruction and Development status, which marks the point when countries start borrowing at near market rates, on lending for human development sectors (education, health and social protection). Using country and year fixed effects, which account for unobservable country characteristics (for example, national priorities) and time effects (for example, market interest rates), the paper finds that human development lending decreases when countries graduate from the International Development Association. The average difference in the binary indicator of lending for any sector is 27 percent while it is 60 percent for human development sectors. The share of human development lending (lending by human development Global Practices over total lending) is also 6.9 percentage points (30 percent) lower. This decline in human development lending in International Bank for Reconstruction and Development countries is accompanied by a greater use of budget support. The results are robust to controlling for non-World Bank aid, as well as various alternative specifications and estimation samples.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-10) Andrews, Kathryn ; Avitabile, Ciro ; Gatti, RobertaUsing a new data set comprised of publicly available information, this paper provides cross-country evidence on domestic government spending for human capital in recent years. Creating a measure of social spending that covers the three sectors of health, education, and social protection has proven to be a challenging task. Only for health spending is there high data coverage over time and across countries. Education and, especially, social protection display large gaps. Increases in social sector spending have generally been slow and unsteady. Although education spending in low-income countries has seen a stable and steady increase, spending on health has been remarkably flat. Human capital outcomes are only weakly correlated with spending in the three sectors. Finally, this paper discusses future research required to provide guidance on how much and what type of investment is needed to achieve high levels of human capital.