Poverty Reduction and Equity Group, World Bank
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Fields of Specialization
Rural Land, Labor and Credit Markets; Microfinance; Poverty Dynamics; Political Economy of Participatory Development; Field Experiments in Governance and Politics; Impact Evaluation of Institutional and Governance Reforms
Poverty Reduction and Equity Group, World Bank
Externally Hosted Work
Last updated July 6, 2023
Ghazala Mansuri is a Lead Economist in the Poverty Reduction and Equity Group. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Boston University and has published extensively in leading journals in Economics and Development. Her research spans four broad areas: Rural land, labor and credit markets; the economics of household behavior; the political economy of participatory development and institutional and governance reforms for development. Her research on the political economy of local development includes a number of evaluations of participatory development programs.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 29
Publication(Taylor and Francis, 2013-04-08) Mansuri, Ghazala ; Rao, VijayendraInfluenced by Amartya Sen, over the last decade, The World Bank has allocated nearly US$80 billion to local participatory development projects targeting poverty, improved public service delivery, and strengthened social cohesion and government accountability. But the success of these programs is hindered by both endogenous local factors and flawed program design and implementation. Two especially important local obstacles are (1) entrenched interests of political agents, civil bureaucrats, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with either incentives to resist or capabilities to appropriate program resources, and (2) poverty and illiteracy, as the poor and illiterate participate less and benefit less from participatory projects than do the wealthier, more educated, and more connected. After reviewing hundreds of participatory projects, three lessons are clear for program planning. First, contextual factors like inequality, history, geography, and political systems (among others) are important. Second, communities do not necessarily have a ready stock of ‘social capital’ to mobilize. Third, induced participatory interventions work best when supported by a responsive state – donors cannot substitute for a non-functional state, and successful programs combine enlightened state action from above with social mobilization from below. Future participatory development projects would benefit substantially from revised planning and considerably more attention paid to evaluation and monitoring. Project managers have historically paid little attention to context, monitoring, or evaluation, in part because The World Bank’s operational policies did not provide incentives to do so. Donor agencies should also exercise greater patience and allow for flexible, long-term engagement to facilitate contextual and programmatic learning, including learning from failure.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2004-02) Mansuri, Ghazala ; Rao, VijayendraCommunity-based (and driven) development (CBD/CDD) projects have become an important form of development assistance, with the World Bank's portfolio alone approximating 7 billion dollars. The authors review the conceptual foundations of CBD/CDD initiatives. Given the importance of the topic, there are, unfortunately, a dearth of well-designed evaluations of such projects. But there is enough quantitative and qualitative evidence from studies that have either been published in peer-reviewed publications or have been conducted by independent researchers to glean some instructive lessons. The authors find that projects that rely on community participation have not been particularly effective at targeting the poor. There is some evidence that CBD/CDD projects create effective community infrastructure, but not a single study establishes a causal relationship between any outcome and participatory elements of a CBD project. Most CBD projects are dominated by elites and, in general, the targeting of poor communities as well as project quality tend to be markedly worse in more unequal communities. However, a number of studies find a U-shaped relationship between inequality and project outcomes. The authors also find that a distinction between potentially "benevolent" forms of elite domination and more pernicious types of "capture" is likely to be important for understanding project dynamics and outcomes. Several qualitative studies indicate that the sustainability of CBD initiatives depends crucially on an enabling institutional environment, which requires upward commitment. Equally, the literature indicates that community leaders need to be downwardly accountable to avoid a variant of "supply-driven demand-driven development." Qualitative evidence also suggests that external agents strongly influence project success. However, facilitators are often poorly trained and inexperienced, particularly when programs are rapidly scaled up. Overall, a naive application of complex contextual concepts like "participation," "social capital," and "empowerment" is endemic among project implementers and contributes to poor design and implementation. In sum, the evidence suggests that CBD/CDD is best done in a context-specific manner, with a long time-horizon, and with careful and well-designed monitoring and evaluation systems.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-02) Jacoby, Hanan G. ; Mansuri, GhazalaIn a setting where husbands wield considerable coercive power, forms of marriage should adapt to protect the interests of women and their families. The authors study the pervasive marriage custom of watta satta in rural Pakistan, a bride exchange between families coupled with a mutual threat of retaliation. They show that watta satta may be a mechanism to coordinate the actions of two sets of in-laws, each of whom wish to restrain their sons-in-law but who only have the ability to restrain their sons. The authors' empirical results support this view. The likelihood of marital inefficiency, as measured by estrangement, domestic abuse, and wife's mental health, is significantly lower in watta satta arrangements as compared with conventional marriages, but only after properly accounting for selection.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-02) Jacoby, Hanan G. ; Mansuri, GhazalaAlthough sharecropping has long fascinated economists, the determinants of this contractual form are still poorly understood and the debate over the extent of moral hazard is far from settled. The authors address both issues by emphasizing the role of landlord supervision. When tenant effort is observable, but at a cost to the landlord, otherwise identical share-tenants can receive different levels of supervision and have different productivity. Unique data on monitoring frequency collected from sharetenants in rural Pakistan confirm that, controlling for selection, "supervised" tenants are significantly more productive than "unsupervised" ones. Landlords' decisions regarding the intensity of supervision and the type of incentive contract to offer depend importantly on the cost of supervising tenants.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-02) Jacoby, Hanan G. ; Mansuri, GhazalaWhen contracts are incomplete, relationship-specific investments may be underprovided due to the threat of opportunistic expropriation or holdup. The authors find evidence of such underinvestment on tenanted land in rural Pakistan. Using data from households cultivating multiple plots under different tenure arrangements, they show that land-specific investment is lower on leased plots. This result is robust to the possible effects of asymmetric information in the leasing market. Greater tenure security also increases land-specific investment on leased plots. Moreover, variation in tenure security appears to be driven largely by heterogeneity across landlords, suggesting that reputation may be important in mitigating the holdup problem.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-06) Mansuri, GhazalaTemporary economic migration is undertaken largely in response to resource constraints. This is evident in the volume of remittances sent back by migrants to their families of origin. In agricultural settings, where those left behind are likely to face considerable exposure to uninsured income risk, such resource flows should translate into better risk bearing capacity. In this paper the author takes up this question by asking whether economic migration allows households to avoid costly risk coping strategies. She focuses on early child growth since there is considerable epidemiological evidence that very young children are particularly vulnerable to shocks that lead to growth faltering, with substantial long-term health consequences. The data come from rural Pakistan, where, as in the rest of Asia, son preference is substantial and there are large gender gaps in most developmental outcomes. As such, the interest is in examining also whether migration-induced resource flows allow households to extend better nutrition and health care protection to girls. Recent work on the intra-household allocation of resources and risk has also shown that gender differences in the relative burden of risk may be important and that the allocation of resources to daughters is often one margin along which poor households adjust to uninsurable transitory income shocks. After accounting for selection into migration, the results indicate that migration has a substantially larger positive impact on growth outcomes for young girls. And the growth advantage is sustained among older girls, suggesting potential intergenerational benefits of averting nutritional and other health shocks for girls in early childhood. These results are further validated by restricting the sample to migrant households and comparing the growth outcomes of siblings before and after migration.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-06) Mansuri, GhazalaInequalities in access to education pose a significant barrier to development. It has been argued that this reflects, in part, borrowing constraints that inhibit private investment in human capital by the poor. One promise of the recent proposals to open international labor markets to allow for the temporary economic migration of low-skilled workers from developing to industrial countries is its potential impact on human capital accumulation by the poor. The large remittance flows from migrants to their communities of origin underscores this aspect of migration. However, migration can also transform expectations of future employment and induce changes in household structure that can exert an independent effect on the private returns to investment in human capital. The author explores the relationship between temporary economic migration and investment in child schooling. A key challenge is to deal appropriately with selection into migration. She finds that the potential positive effects of temporary economic migration on human capital accumulation are large. Moreover, the gains are much greater for girls, yielding a very substantial reduction in gender inequalities in access to education. Significantly, though, the gains appear to arise almost entirely from the greater resource flows to migrant households. The author cannot detect any effect of future migration prospects on schooling decisions. More significantly, she does not find any protective effect of migration-induced female headship on schooling outcomes for girls. Rather, female headship appears to protect boys at the cost of girls.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-07) Mansuri, Ghazala ; Rao, VijayendraThe World Bank has allocated close to $80 billion towards participatory development projects over the last decade. A comprehensive review of the evidence on the efficacy of the approach conducted by the authors for the forthcoming Policy Research Report, Localizing Development: Does Participation Work?, finds that while participatory projects have been reasonably effective in improving access to basic services, there is far less evidence of their effectiveness in improving household income or in building sustainable participatory institutions at the local level. A key issue is that the institutional culture in development agencies such as the World Bank lacks the flexibility and long-term commitment necessary for effective externally induced participatory development. Induced participation -- driven by large-scale bureaucratically managed processes, is quite different from more organic types of participation endogenously organized by civic groups. It requires a very different approach to development, one that pays close attention to contextual variation and to uncertain trajectories of change. In order to be effective, induced participatory projects need a strong focus on learning-by-doing; on monitoring and evaluation and a willingness to learn from failure. A review of the World Bank's practices in monitoring and evaluation, and of its incentives to learn from failure, reveals that without significant changes, including changes in the incentive structures facing management, the Bank cannot be effective in inducing participation.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2013) Mansuri, Ghazala ; Rao, VijayendraThe Policy Research Report Localizing Development: Does Participation Work? brings analytical rigor to a field that has been the subject of intense debate and advocacy, and billions of dollars in development aid. It briefly reviews the history of participatory development and argues that its two modalities, community-based development and local decentralization, should be treated under the broader unifying umbrella of local development. It suggests that a distinction between organic participation (endogenous efforts by civic activists to bring about change) and induced participation (large-scale efforts to engineer participation at the local level via projects) is key, and focuses on the challenges of inducing participation. The report provides a conceptual framework for thinking about participatory development and then uses this framework to conduct a comprehensive review of the literature. The framework develops the concept of “civil society failure” and explains its interaction with government and market failures. It argues that participatory development, which is often viewed as a mechanism for bypassing market and government failures by ”harnessing” civic capacity, ought to be seen instead as a mechanism that, if done right, could help to repair important civil society failures. It distills literature from anthropology, economics, sociology, and political science to outline the challenges for effective policy in this area, looking at issues such as the uncertainty of trajectories of change, the importance of context, the role of elite capture and control, the challenge of collective action, and the role of the state. The review of the evidence looks at a variety of issues: the impact of participatory projects on inclusion, civic capacity, and social cohesion; on key development outcomes, such as income, poverty, and inequality; on public service delivery; and on the quality of local public goods. It draws on the evidence to suggest several recommendations for policy, emphasizing the key role of learning-by-doing. It then reviews participatory projects funded by the World Bank and finds the majority lacking in several arenas – particularly in paying attention to context and in creating effective monitoring and evaluation systems that allow for learning.
Labor Supply Responses to Health Shocks: Evidence from High-Frequency Labor Market Data from Urban Ghana(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2019-10) Heath, Rachel ; Mansuri, Ghazala ; Rijkers, BobWorkers in developing countries are subject to frequent health shocks. Using 10 weeks of high-frequency labor market data that were collected in urban Ghana, this paper documents that men are 9 percentage points more likely to work in weeks in which another worker in the household is unexpectedly ill. The paper provides suggestive evidence that these effects are strongest among very risk averse men, men in poorer households, and men who are the highest earners in their household. By contrast, women display a net zero response to another worker's illness, even women who are the highest earners in their household.