Evans, David K.
Africa Chief Economist’s Office
Author Name Variants
Fields of Specialization
Education, Social Development
Africa Chief Economist’s Office
Externally Hosted Work
Last updated July 27, 2023
Bio: David is a Lead Economist in the Chief Economist's Office for the Africa Region of the World Bank. He coordinates impact evaluation work across sectors for the Africa Region. In the past, he worked as Senior Economist in the Human Development Department in the Latin America and the Caribbean Region of the World Bank, and as an economist designing and implementing impact evaluations in Africa. He has designed and implemented impact evaluations in agriculture, education, health, and social protection, in Brazil, the Gambia, Kenya, Mexico, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania. He has taught economic development at the Pardee RAND Graduate School of Public Policy, and he holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 30
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-12) Di Maro, Vincenzo ; Evans, David K. ; Khemani, Stuti ; Scot, ThiagoAlthough research has established the importance of state capacity in economic development, less is known about how to build that capacity and the role of external partners in the process. This paper estimates the impact of a typical development project designed to build state capacity in a low-income country. Specifically, it evaluates a multilateral development bank project in Tanzania, which incentivized investments in local state capacity by offering grants conditional on institutional performance scores. The paper uses a difference-in-differences methodology to estimate the project impact, comparing outcomes between 18 project and 22 non-project local governments over 2016–18. Outcomes were measured through two rounds of primary surveys of nearly 500 local government officials and nearly 3,000 households. Over the course of the project, measured state capacity improved in project areas, but due to comparable gains in non-project areas, the project’s value-added to change in state capacity is estimated to be zero across all the dozens of relevant variables in the surveys. The data suggest that state capacity is evolving in Tanzania through endogenous changes in trust and legitimacy in the country rather than from financial incentives offered by external partners.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-08) Evans, David K. ; Yuan, Fei ; Filmer, DeonPay levels for public sector workers—and especially teachers—are a constant source of controversy. In many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, protests and strikes suggest that pay is low, while simple comparisons to average national income per capita suggest that it is high. This study presents data on teacher pay from 15 African countries, along with five comparator countries from other regions. The results suggest that in several (seven) countries, teachers' monthly salaries are lower than other formal sector workers with comparable levels of education and experience. However, in all of those countries, teachers report working significantly fewer hours than other workers, so that their hourly wage is higher. Teachers who report fewer hours are no more likely to report holding a second job, although teachers overall are nearly two times more likely to hold a second job than other workers. With higher national incomes, the absolute value of teacher salaries rises, but they fall as a percentage of income per capita. The study explores variation across types of teacher contracts, the association between teacher pay and student performance, and the association between teacher pay premia and other aspects of economies.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-02) Evans, David K. ; Holtemeyer, Brian ; Kosec, KatrinaHow does a locally-managed conditional cash transfer program impact trust in government? On the one hand, delivering monetary benefits and increasing interactions with government officials (elected and appointed) may increase trust. On the other hand, imposing paternalistic conditions, leading some to experience feelings of social stigma or guilt, and potentially permitting capture by local elites could reduce trust. This paper answers this question by exploiting the randomized introduction of a locally-managed transfer program in Tanzania in 2010, which included popular election of community management committees to run the program. The analysis reveals that cash transfers can significantly increase trust in leaders. This effect is driven by large increases in trust in elected leaders as opposed to appointed bureaucrats. Perceptions of government responsiveness to citizens' concerns and honesty of leaders also rise; these improvements are largest where there are more village meetings at baseline. One of the central roles of village meetings is to receive and share information with village residents. One indicator that governance may have improved is that records from school and health committees are more readily available in treatment villages. Notably, while the stated willingness of citizens to participate in community development projects rises, actual participation in projects and the likelihood of voting does not. Concerns that local management of a cash transfer program will destroy trust in government or reduce the quality of governance appear unfounded—especially in high-information contexts.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-07-16) Biswas, Kumar ; Asaduzzaman, T.M. ; Evans, David K. ; Fehrler, Sebastian ; Ramachandran, Deepika ; Sabarwal, ShwetlenaIs TV-based learning during COVID-19 school closures in Bangladesh reaching students? Most students (86 percent) within our sample of more than 2,000 Grade 9 stipend recipients are aware of government provided TV-based learning programs; yet only half of the students with access to these programs choose to access them. Also, very few students (21 percent) have access to government provided online learning programs, and among those that do, only about 2 percent choose to access them. There is a perceptible decline in the time students spend studying at home after school closures. This may be linked to the fact that 1 in 2 parents claim they are unable to help their children with new topics. Despite lower education, mothers are significantly more likely to be involved in the child’s education compared to fathers. Most students (90 percent) claim they have a supportive environment at home for studying. This is true for both boys and girls. Finally, nearly 65 percent of households in our sample report declines in income and 28 percent had to decrease the amount of food consumed within the household in the previous week.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-11) Evans, David K. ; Holtemeyer, Brian ; Kosec, KatrinaHow do conditional cash transfers impact health-related outcomes? This paper examines the 2010 randomized introduction of a program in Tanzania and finds nuanced impacts. An initial surge in clinic visits after 1.5 years -- due to more visits by those already complying with program health conditions and by non-compliers -- disappeared after 2.5 years, largely due to compliers reducing above-minimal visits. The study finds significant increases in take-up of health insurance and the likelihood of seeking treatment when ill. Health improvements were concentrated among children ages 0–5 years rather than the elderly, and took time to materialize; the study finds no improvements after 1.5 years, but 0.76 fewer sick days per month after 2.5 years, suggesting the importance of looking beyond short-term impacts. Reductions in sick days were largest in villages with more baseline health workers per capita, consistent with improvements being sensitive to capacity constraints. These results are robust to adjustments for multiple hypothesis testing.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-08) Popova, Anna ; Evans, David K. ; Breeding, Mary E. ; Arancibia, Violeta ; Breeding, Mary E.Teachers, like all professionals, require ongoing professional development opportunities to improve their skills. This paper provides evidence on effective professional development characteristics and how at-scale programs incorporate those characteristics. The authors propose a standard set of 70 indicators—the In-Service Teacher Training Survey Instrument—for reporting on professional development programs as a prerequisite for understanding the characteristics of those programs that improve student learning. The authors apply the instrument to rigorously evaluated professional development programs in low- and middle-income countries. Across 33 programs, those programs that link participation to career incentives, have a specific subject focus, incorporate lesson enactment in the training, and include initial face-to-face training tend to show higher student learning gains. In qualitative interviews, program implementers also report follow-up visits as among the most effective characteristics of their professional development programs. The authors then apply the instruments to a sample of 139 government-funded, at-scale professional development programs across 14 countries. This analysis uncovers a sharp gap between the characteristics of teacher professional development programs that evidence suggests are effective and the global realities of most teacher professional development programs.
How to Improve Education Outcomes Most Efficiently? A Comparison of 150 Interventions Using the New Learning-Adjusted Years of Schooling Metric(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-10) Angrist, Noam ; Evans, David K. ; Filmer, Deon ; Glennerster, Rachel ; Rogers, F. Halsey ; Sabarwal, ShwetlenaMany low- and middle-income countries lag far behind high-income countries in educational access and student learning. Limited resources mean that policymakers must make tough choices about which investments to make to improve education. Although hundreds of education interventions have been rigorously evaluated, making comparisons between the results is challenging. Some studies report changes in years of schooling; others report changes in learning. Standard deviations, the metric typically used to report learning gains, measure gains relative to a local distribution of test scores. This metric makes it hard to judge if the gain is worth the cost in absolute terms. This paper proposes using learning-adjusted years of schooling (LAYS) -- which combines access and quality and compares gains to an absolute, cross-country standard -- as a new metric for reporting gains from education interventions. The paper applies LAYS to compare the effectiveness (and cost-effectiveness, where cost is available) of interventions from 150 impact evaluations across 46 countries. The results show that some of the most cost-effective programs deliver the equivalent of three additional years of high-quality schooling (that is, schooling at quality comparable to the highest-performing education systems) for just $100 per child -- compared with zero years for other classes of interventions.
Early Childhood Development Operations in Latin and Caribbean Region (LCR) : Jamaica, Mexico, and Brazil in Focus(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2010-02) Holland, Peter ; Evans, DavidThe rationale and evidence of the effectiveness of investing early in children is compelling: early childhood is the most rapid period of development in a human life, with incredible brain development occurring (85 percent of the brain is wired by age 5). Investments in Early Childhood Development (ECD) are among the most effective and cost-effective investments a country can make in its people. Simply put, investing in ECD is an investment for life. Children who participate in ECD programs demonstrate improved school readiness, success, and completion; improved health; reduced risky behavior and crime; and higher productivity and income. Perhaps most importantly for public policy, delays in early childhood are difficult and costly to reverse later in life. The World Bank is particularly well-poised to help clients further the ECD agenda in their countries and improve medium and long-term development for generations to come. Given the inherently multi-sectoral nature of ECD interventions, including inter alia health, education, social protection, and the water sectors, the Bank also multi-sectoral in nature has a comparative advantage in working in this area, and can truly be more than the sum of its parts leveraging its deep sectoral expertise on issues from water and urban development to education and health and creating synergies across those areas. This note discusses how the Bank can work with clients to develop the policies and strategies for comprehensive child development, and to scale-up quality services to children. It presents case studies from three diverse countries and highlights a wide range of the types of operations offered: a multi-sector investment project with disbursements linked to specific results achieved in Jamaica, a traditional sector-specific project in Mexico, and a program of impact evaluations in Brazil. The purpose is to demonstrate the variety of instruments the Bank has, and the tailored approach that the Bank uses to respond to specific client demands for collaborating in the area of ECD.
Publication(World Bank, 2012) Bruns, Barbara ; Evans, David ; Luque, JavierEducation is improving in Brazil. The average years of education has almost doubled over the last 20 years, as has the proportion of adults who have completed secondary school. Brazil's high school students have improved consistently in math and language performance over the last decade. These gains stem from the federal government's priority attention to education through both reforms and resources over the past 15 years. The progress laid out in this book is impressive and praiseworthy, but Brazil still trails its competitors in several of the ways that matter most. Student learning, while improving, still lags far behind wealthier nations. Many secondary schools lose the majority of their students well before graduation. Teachers are drawn from among the lowest achievers and have few performance incentives, and it shows in how class time is used. This important book explores not only the basis for Brazil's progress, but also what it must do to bridge the remaining quality gap to a first-rate education for its children. It provides detailed recommendations for strengthening the performance of teachers, supporting children's early development, and reforming secondary education. In Brazil's highly decentralized basic education system, each level of government has an integral role to play.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-07) Evans, David K. ; Yuan, FeiDespite dramatic global gains in access to education, 130 million girls of school age remain out of school. Among those who do enter, too many do not gain the essential skills to succeed after they complete their schooling. Previous efforts to synthesize evidence on how to improve educational outcomes for girls have tended to focus on interventions that are principally targeted to girls, such as girls' latrines or girls' scholarships. But if general, non-targeted interventions -- those that benefit both girls and boys -- significantly improve girls' education, then focusing only on girl-targeted interventions may miss some of the best investments for improving educational opportunities for girls in absolute terms. This review brings together evidence from 270 educational interventions from 177 studies in 54 low- and middle-income countries and identifies their impacts on girls, regardless of whether the interventions specifically target girls. The review finds that to improve access and learning, general interventions deliver gains for girls that are comparable to girl-targeted interventions. At the same time, many more general interventions have been tested, providing a broader menu of options for policy makers. General interventions have similar impacts for girls as for boys. Many of the most effective interventions to improve access for girls are household-based (such as cash transfer programs), and many of the most effective interventions to improve learning for girls involve improving the pedagogy of teachers. Girl-targeted interventions may make the most sense when addressing constraints that are unique to girls.