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
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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 - 9 of 9
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, 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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-01) Giné, Xavier ; Mansuri, Ghazala ; Shrestha, Slesh A.Economic theory has long suggested the use of monetary incentives to motivate workers. In practice, however, public bureaucracies and nonprofit organizations are driven by a broader mission that often involves multiple operational goals, not all of which may translate equally well into measurable indicators. The authors worked with the largest partner of a prominent development organization in Pakistan called the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) and its largest partner National Rural Support Program (NRSP) who share the same mission of reducing poverty. The study was conducted in all thirty five branch offices located in fifteen districts across Sindh, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, where NRSP was active. These results indicate that both production and cost complementarities are empirically relevant. Finally, the results suggest that financial incentives that crowd out intrinsic motivation can also affect performance by undermining the willingness of motivated employees to work in teams.
The Impact of Social Mobilization on Health Service Delivery and Health Outcomes: Evidence from Rural Pakistan(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-01) Gine, Xavier ; Khalid, Salma ; Mansuri, GhazalaThis paper uses a randomized community development program in rural Pakistan to assess the impact of citizen engagement on the quality of public health services. The program had a strong emphasis on organizing women, who also identified health services as a development priority at baseline. Assessing the program at midline, the paper finds that the mobilization effort alone had a significant impact on the performance of village-based health providers. The study detects economically large improvements in pregnancy and well-baby visits by lady health workers, as well as increased utilization of pre- and post-natal care by pregnant women. In contrast, the quality of supra-village health services did not improve, underscoring the importance of community enforcement and monitoring capacity for improving service delivery.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-12) Gine, Xavier ; Mansuri, Ghazala ; Shrestha, Slesh A.The impact of performance pay in institutions with multiple goals depends on complementarities in the disutility cost of effort and how different tasks interact to achieve each goal. Workers of a mission-oriented nonprofit were randomly assigned to one of two bonus schemes, each incentivizing one of its two main operational goals: the performance of its microcredit program and the strengthening of community institutions of the poor. This study finds that the credit bonus improved credit-related outcomes but it undermined the social outcome. In contrast, the social bonus advanced the social mission as well as the microcredit program, but only for employees working alone, undermining the performance of employees working in teams. These results cannot be explained by a standard multitask principal-agent model featuring only complementarities in the disutility cost of effort. Instead, they suggest that production complementarities are also relevant.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-02) Jacoby, Hanan G. ; Mansuri, Ghazala ; Fatima, FreehaDoes decentralizing the allocation of public resources reduce rent-seeking and improve equity? This paper studies a governance reform in Pakistan's vast Indus Basin irrigation system. Using canal discharge measurements across all of Punjab province, the analysis finds that water theft increased on channels taken over by local farmer organizations compared with channels that remained bureaucratically managed, leading to substantial wealth redistribution. The increase in water theft was greater along channels with larger landowners situated upstream. These findings are consistent with a model in which decentralization accentuates the political power of local elites by shifting the arena in which water rights are contested.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-02) Jacoby, Hanan G. ; Mansuri, GhazalaSurface irrigation is a common pool resource characterized by asymmetric appropriation opportunities across upstream and downstream water users. Large canal systems are also predominantly managed by the state. This paper studies water allocation under an irrigation bureaucracy subject to corruption and rent-seeking. Data on the landholdings and political influence of nearly a quarter million irrigators in Pakistan's vast Indus Basin watershed allow the construction of a novel index of lobbying power. Consistent with a model of misgovernance, the decline in water availability and land values from channel head to tail is accentuated along canals having greater lobbying power at the head than at the tail.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-07-06) Brunckhorst, Ben ; Hill, Ruth ; Mansuri, Ghazala ; Nguyen, Trang ; Doan, MikiReducing the impact of climate change on poor and vulnerable households is essential to hastening poverty reduction. In thinking about policies that do this, it is useful to apply the same hazard, exposure and vulnerability framework that is often used to understand the physical impacts of climate change and add the non-climate benefits and costs to households that these policies can also bring. Policies that reduce hazards and vulnerability whilst bringing non-climate benefits—triple win policies—are not very common, but where possible they should be prioritized. Policies that reduce vulnerability and bring non-climate benefits are more common. However, some development policies that bring non-climate benefits, particularly in higher-income and higher-growth countries, may increase emissions by enough to worsen future hazards, so their emissions impact needs to be managed with compensating actions. Policies that reduce the hazards faced by poor households are needed, and the non-climate cost of these policies on poor people should be minimized or compensated where it cannot be avoided.