Latin America and Caribbean
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Fields of Specialization
Social Development, Sustainable Development
Latin America and Caribbean
Externally Hosted Work
Last updated July 5, 2023
Jamele Rigolini has been the World Bank Program Leader for Human Development and Poverty for Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. His areas of expertise include social protection, human development, labor markets, poverty, gender and entrepreneurship/innovation policies. Prior to joining the World Bank, he was an assistant professor of economics at the University of Warwick (UK). He also worked for the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and McKinsey & Co. At the World Bank, he worked in the East Asia and Pacific region, where he managed lending projects and advisory activities in the areas of labor markets and social protection. He also managed the World Bank’s flagship reports for Latin America and maintained close dialogue with other international organizations, as well as with Latin American academic institutions and think tanks. Jamele Rigolini holds a degree in physics from the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich and a Ph.D. in economics from New York University. He has published articles in several economics journals, including the Journal of Public Economics, the Journal of Development Economics, Economic Letters and World Development.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 12
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-02) Loayza, Norman ; Mier y Teran, Alfredo ; Rigolini, JameleThe extent to which local communities benefit from commodity booms has been subject to wide but inconclusive investigations. This paper draws from a new district-level database to investigate the local impact on socioeconomic outcomes of mining activity in Peru, which grew almost twentyfold in the last two decades. The authors find evidence that producing districts have better average living standards than otherwise similar districts: larger household consumption, lower poverty rate, and higher literacy. However, the positive impacts from mining decrease significantly with administrative and geographic distance from the mine, while district-level consumption inequality increases in all districts belonging to a producing province. The inequalizing impact of mining activity, both across and within districts, may explain part of the current social discontent with mining activities in the country, even despite its enormous revenues.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-02) Allwine, Melanie ; Rigolini, Jamele ; López-Calva, Luis F.Adopted on September 8, 2000, the United Nations Millennium Declaration stated as its first goal that countries "...[further] resolve to halve, by the year 2015, the proportion of the world's people whose income is less than one dollar a day and the proportion of people who suffer from hunger..." Each country committed to achieve the stated goal, regardless of their initial conditions in terms of poverty and inequality levels. This paper presents a framework to quantify how much initial conditions affect poverty reduction, given a level of "effort" (growth). The framework used in the analysis allows for the growth elasticity of poverty to vary according to changes in the income distribution along the dynamic path of growth and redistribution, unlike previous examples in the literature where this is assumed to be constant. While wealthier countries did perform better in reducing poverty in the last decade and a half (1995-2008), assuming equal initial conditions, the situation reverses: the paper finds a statistically significant negative relation between initial average income and poverty reduction performance, with the poorest countries in the sample going from the worst to the best performers in poverty reduction. The analysis also quantifies how much poorer countries would have scored better, had they had the same level of initial average income as wealthier countries. The results suggest a remarkable change in poverty reduction performance, in addition to the reversal of ranks from worst to best performers. The application of this framework goes beyond poverty targets and the Millennium Development Goals. Given the widespread use of targets to determine resource allocation in education, health, or decentralized social expenditures, it constitutes a helpful tool to measure policy performance toward all kinds of goals. The proposed framework can be useful to evaluate the importance of initial conditions on outcomes, for a wide array of policies.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2003-08) Gatti, Roberta ; Paternostro, Stefano ; Rigolini, JameleUsing individual-level data for 35 countries, the authors investigate the microeconomic determinants of attitudes toward corruption. They find women, employed, less wealthy, and older individuals to be more averse to corruption. The authors also provide evidence that social effects play an important role in determining individual attitudes toward corruption, as these are robustly and significantly associated with the average level of tolerance of corruption in the region. This finding lends empirical support to theoretical models where corruption emerges in multiple equilibria and suggests that "big-push" policies might be particularly effective in combating corruption.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-12) Loayza, Norman V. ; Rigolini, JameleThis paper studies the trends and cycles of informal employment. It first presents a theoretical model where the size of informal employment is determined by the relative costs and benefits of informality and the distribution of workers' skills. In the long run, informal employment varies with the trends in these variables, and in the short run it reacts to accommodate transient shocks and to close the gap that separates it from its trend level. The paper then uses an error-correction framework to examine empirically informality's long- and short-run relationships. For this purpose, it uses country-level data at annual frequency for a sample of industrial and developing countries, with the share of self-employment in the labor force as the proxy for informal employment. The paper finds that, in the long run, informality is larger in countries that have lower GDP per capita and impose more costs to formal firms in the form of more rigid business regulations, less valuable police and judicial services, and weaker monitoring of informality. In the short run, informal employment is found to be counter-cyclical for the majority of countries, with the degree of counter-cyclicality being lower in countries with larger informal employment and better police and judicial services. Moreover, informal employment follows a stable, trend-reverting process. These results are robust to changes in the sample and to the influence of outliers, even when only developing countries are considered in the analysis.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-03) Loayza, Norman ; Rigolini, Jamele ; Llorente, GonzaloThe paper examines the link between poverty, the middle class and institutional outcomes using a new cross-country panel dataset on the distribution of income and expenditure. It uses an econometric methodology to gauge whether a larger middle class has a causal effect on policy and institutional outcomes in three areas: social policy in health and education, market-oriented economic structure and quality of governance. The analysis find that when the middle class becomes larger (measured as the proportion of people earning more than US$10 a day), social policy on health and education becomes more progressive, and the quality of governance (democratic participation and official corruption) also improves. This trend does not occur at the expense of economic freedom, as a larger middle class also leads to more market-oriented economic policy on trade and finance. These beneficial effects of a larger middle class appear to be more robust than the impact of lower poverty, lower inequality or higher gross domestic product per capita. That may be linked to the evolution of the middle class: they are more enlightened, more likely to take political actions and have a stronger voice. They also share preferences and values for policy and institutional reforms, as well as higher stakes in property rights and wealth accumulation.
Addressing Access and Behavioral Constraints through Social Intermediation Services : A Review of Chile Solidario and Red Unidos(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-12) Camacho, Adriana ; Cunningham, Wendy ; Rigolini, Jamele ; Silva, VeronicaSocial programs are often designed under the assumption that individuals make rational decisions that improve their welfare. Yet, informational and behavioral constraints limit the extreme and chronic poor's access and participation in social programs. This paper reviews the implementation and performance of two "social intermediation services" that were designed to address these constraints, improve beneficiaries' access to social programs, and help the poor surmount poverty: Chile Solidario, the first such service in Latin America, and Red Unidos, implemented later in Colombia. The analysis provides insights on key factors influencing performance, cost effectiveness, and the impacts that such services can be expected to have.
Publication( 2016-07-20) Vakis, Renos ; Rigolini, Jamele ; Lucchetti, LeonardoOne out of every five Latin Americans—about 130 million people—have never known anything but poverty, subsisting on less than US$4 a day throughout their lives. These are the region's chronically poor, who have remained so despite unprecedented inroads against poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean since the turn of the century. This book takes a closer look at the region’s entrenched poor, who and where they are, and how existing policies need to change to effectively assist the poor. The book shows significant variations of rates of chronic poverty across and within countries. The book posits that refinements to the existing policy toolkit —as opposed to more programs—may come a long way in helping the remaining poor. These refinements include intensifying efforts to improve coordination between different social and economic programs, which can boost the income-generation process and deal with the intergenerational transmission of chronic poverty by investing in early childhood development. In addition, there is an urgent need to adapt programs to directly address the psychological toll of chronic poverty on people’s mindsets and aspirations, which currently undermines the effectiveness of existing policy efforts.
Publication( 2011-08-01) Loayza, Norman V. ; Rigolini, Jamele ; Calvo-Gonzalez, OscarIn the past three decades, emerging countries have gone through extensive decentralization reforms. Yet, there are no studies assessing quantitatively the relative importance of various factors known to affect the success of decentralization. This paper builds on a comprehensive dataset the authors constructed for Peru, which merges municipal fiscal accounts with information about municipalities' characteristics such as population, poverty, education, and local politics. The paper then analyzes the leading factors affecting the ability of municipalities to execute the allocated budget using complementary methodologies, from least squares to quantile regression analyses. According to the existing literature and the Peruvian context, the analysis divides these factors into four categories: the budget size and allocation process; local capacity; local needs; and political economy constraints. Although all four factors affect decentralization, the largest determinant of spending ability is the adequacy of the budget with respect to local capacity. The results confirm the need for decentralization to be implemented gradually over time in parallel with strong capacity building efforts.
Should Cash Transfers Be Confined to the Poor? Implications for Poverty and Inequality in Latin America( 2011-11-01) Acosta, Pablo ; Leite, Phillipe ; Rigolini, JameleThis paper compares for 13 Latin American countries the poverty and inequality impacts of cash transfer programs that are given to all children and the elderly (that is, "categorical" transfers), to programs of equal budget that are confined to the poor within each population group (that is, "poverty targeted" transfers). The analysis finds that both the incidence of poverty and the depth of the poverty gap are important factors affecting the relative effectiveness of categorical versus poverty targeted transfers. The comparison of transfers to children and the elderly also supports the view that choosing carefully categories of beneficiaries is almost as important as targeting the poor for achieving a high poverty and inequality impact. Overall, the findings suggest that although in the Latin American context poverty targeting tends to deliver higher poverty impacts, there are circumstances under which categorical targeting confined to geographical regions (sometimes called "geographic targeting") may be a valid option to consider. This is particularly the case in low-income countries with widespread pockets of poverty.
Is There Such Thing As Middle Class Values? Class Differences, Values and Political Orientations in Latin America( 2011-11-01) Lopez-Calva, Luis F. ; Rigolini, Jamele ; Torche, FlorenciaMiddle class values have long been perceived as drivers of social cohesion and growth. This paper investigates the relation between class (measured by position in the income distribution), values, and political orientations using comparable values surveys for six Latin American countries. The analysis finds that both a continuous measure of income and categorical measures of income-based class are robustly associated with values. Both income and class tend to display a similar association to values and political orientations as education, although differences persist in some important dimensions. Overall, there is no strong evidence of any "middle class particularism": values appear to gradually shift with income, and middle class values are between the ones of poorer and richer classes. If any, the only peculiarity of middle class values is moderation. The analysis also finds changes in values across countries to be of much larger magnitude than the ones dictated by income, education, and individual characteristics, suggesting that individual values vary primarily within bounds dictated by each society.