Evans, David K.

Africa Chief Economist’s Office
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Education, Social Development
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Africa Chief Economist’s Office
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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.
Citations 420 Scopus

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Now showing 1 - 4 of 4
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    Orphans and Ebola : Estimating the Secondary Impact of a Public Health Crisis
    (World Bank Group, Washington, DC, 2015-02) Evans, David K. ; Popova, Anna
    The 2014 Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in West Africa is the largest to date by far. Ebola Virus Disease causes disproportionate mortality among the working-age population, resulting in far more mortality for parents of young children than other health crises. This paper combines data on the age distribution of current and projected mortality from Ebola with the fertility distribution of adults in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, to estimate the likely impact of the epidemic on the number of orphans in these three countries. Using the latest mortality estimates (from February 11, 2015), it is estimated that more than 9,600 children have lost one or both parents to Ebola Virus Disease. The absolute numbers of orphans created by the Ebola epidemic are significant, but represent a small fraction (1.4 percent) of the existing orphan burden in the affected countries. Ebola is unlikely to increase the numbers of orphans beyond extended family networks' capacities to absorb them. Nonetheless, the pressures of caring for increased numbers of orphans may result in lower quality of care. These estimates should be used to guide policy to support family networks to improve the capacity to provide high quality care to orphans.
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    Property Tax Compliance in Tanzania: Can Nudges Help?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-08) Collin, Matthew Edward ; Di Maro, Vincenzo ; Evans, David K. ; Manang, Frederik
    Low tax compliance in low- and middle-income countries around the world limits the ability of governments to offer effective public services. This paper reports the results of a randomly rolled out text message campaign aimed at promoting tax compliance among landowners in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Landowners were randomly assigned to one of four groups designed to test different aspects of tax morale. They received a simple text message reminder to pay their tax (a test of salience), a message highlighting the connection between taxes and public services (reciprocity), a message communicating that people who did not pay were not contributing to local or national development (social pressure), or no message (control). Recipients of any message were 18 percent (or 2 percentage points) more likely to pay any property tax by the end of the study period. Each type of message resulted in gains in payment rates, although social pressure messages delivered the lowest gains. Total payment amounts were highest for those who received reciprocity messages. Nudges were most effective in areas with lower initial rates of tax compliance. The average estimated benefit-cost ratio across treatments is 36:1 due to the low cost of the intervention, with higher cost-effectiveness for reciprocity messages.
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    Cash Transfers Increase Trust in Local Government
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-02) Evans, David K. ; Holtemeyer, Brian ; Kosec, Katrina
    How 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.
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    Building State Capacity: What Is the Impact of Development Projects?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-12) Di Maro, Vincenzo ; Evans, David K. ; Khemani, Stuti ; Scot, Thiago
    Although 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.