Development Research Group
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Fields of Specialization
Health economics, Education, Gender, Health, Microeconomics, Cultural economics, India, Pakistan, Kenya, Zambia, Macroeconomic and Structural Policies
Development Research Group
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Last updated January 31, 2023
Jishnu Das is a Lead Economist in the Development Research Group (Human Development Team) at the World Bank and a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Policy Research, New Delhi. Jishnu’s work focuses on the delivery of basic services, particularly health and education. He has worked on the quality of health care, mental health, information in health and education markets, child learning and test-scores and the determinants of trust. His work has been published in leading economics, health and education journals and widely covered in the media and policy forums. In 2011 he was part of the core team on the World Development Report on Gender and Development. He received the George Bereday Award from the Comparative and International Education Society and the Stockholm Challenge Award for the best ICT project in the public administration category in 2006, and the Research Academy award from the World Bank in 2013. He is currently working on long-term projects on health and education markets in India and Pakistan.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 49
No Thumbnail AvailablePublication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-01) Das, Jishnu ; Do, Quy-Toan ; Friedman, Jed ; McKenzie, DavidThe social and economic consequences of poor mental health in the developing world are presumed to be significant, yet are largely under-researched. The authors argue that mental health modules can be meaningfully added to multi-purpose household surveys in developing countries, and used to investigate this relationship. Data from nationally representative surveys in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Indonesia, and Mexico, along with special surveys from India and Tonga, show similar patterns of association between mental health and socioeconomic characteristics across countries. Individuals who are older, female, widowed, and report poor physical health are more likely to report worse mental health outcomes. Individuals living with others with poor mental health are also significantly more likely to report worse mental health themselves. In contrast, there is little observed relationship between mental health and poverty or education, common measures of socio-economic status. The results instead suggest that economic and multi-dimensional shocks such as illness or crisis can have a greater impact on mental health than overall levels of poverty. This may have important implications for social protection policy. The authors also find significant associations between poor mental health and lowered labor force participation (especially for women) and higher frequency visits to health centers, suggesting that poor mental health can have significant economic consequences for households and the health system. Finally, the paper discusses how measures of mental health are distinct from general subjective welfare measures such as happiness and indicate useful directions of future research.
No Thumbnail AvailablePublication( 2011) Andrabi, Tahir ; Das, Jishnu ; Khwaja, Asim Ijaz ; Zajonc, TristanThis paper illustrates the central role of persistence in estimating and interpreting value-added models of learning. Using data from Pakistani public and private schools, we apply dynamic panel methods that address three key empirical challenges: imperfect persistence, unobserved heterogeneity, and measurement error. Our estimates suggest that only one-fifth to one-half of learning persists between grades and that private schools increase average achievement by 0.25 standard deviations each year. In contrast, value-added models that assume perfect persistence yield severely downward estimates of the private school effect. Models that ignore unobserved heterogeneity or measurement error produce biased estimates of persistence.
Publication(Washington, DC : World Bank, 2006-11) Andrabi, Tahir ; Das, Jishnu ; Khwaja, Asim IjazThis paper looks at the private schooling sector in Pakistan, a country that is seriously behind schedule in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Using new data, the authors document the phenomenal rise of the private sector in Pakistan and show that an increasing segment of children enrolled in private schools are from rural areas and from middle-class and poorer families. The key element in their rise is their low fees-the average fee of a rural private school in Pakistan is less than a dime a day (Rs.6). They hire predominantly local, female, and moderately educated teachers who have limited alternative opportunities outside the village. Hiring these teachers at low cost allows the savings to be passed on to parents through low fees. This mechanism-the need to hire teachers with a certain demographic profile so that salary costs are minimized-defines the possibility of private schools: where they arise, fees are low. It also defines their limits. Private schools are horizontally constrained in that they arise in villages where there is a pool of secondary educated women. They are also vertically constrained in that they are unlikely to cater to the secondary levels in rural areas, at least until there is an increase in the supply of potential teachers with the required skills and educational levels.
Publication(World Bank, 2009-02-28) Das, Jishnu ; Do, Quy-Toan ; Friedman, Jed ; McKenzie, DavidThe social and economic consequences of poor mental health in the developing world are presumed to be significant, yet remain underresearched. This study uses data from nationally representative surveys in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Indonesia, and Mexico and from special surveys in India and Tonga to show similar patterns of association between mental health and socioeconomic characteristics. Individuals who are older, female, widowed, and report poor physical health are more likely to report worse mental health. Individuals living with others with poor mental health are also significantly more likely to report worse mental health themselves. In contrast, there is little observed relation between mental health and consumption poverty or education, two common measures of socioeconomic status. Indeed, the results here suggest instead that economic and multidimensional shocks, such as illness or crisis, can have a greater impact on mental health than poverty. This may have important implications for social protection policy. Also significant, the associations between poor mental health and lower labor force participation (especially for women) and more frequent visits to health centers suggest that poor mental health can have economic consequences for households and the health system. Mental health modules could usefully be added to multipurpose household surveys in developing countries. Finally, measures of mental health appear distinct from general subjective measures of welfare such as happiness.
Publication( 2010-10-01) Andrabi, Tahir ; Das, JishnuWinning "hearts and minds" in the Muslim world is an explicitly acknowledged aim of U.S. foreign policy and increasingly, bilateral foreign aid is recognized as a vehicle towards this end. The authors examine the effect of aid from foreign organizations and on-the-ground presence of foreigners following the 2005 earthquake in Northern Pakistan on local attitudes. They show that four years after the earthquake, humanitarian assistance by foreigners and foreign organizations has left a lasting imprint on population attitudes. Measured in three different ways those living closer to the fault-line report more positive attitudes towards foreigners, including Europeans and Americans; trust in foreigners decreases 6 percentage points for every 10 Kilometers distance from the fault-line. In contrast, there is no association between distance to the fault-line and trust in local populations. Pre-existing differences in socioeconomic characteristics or population attitudes do not account for this finding. Instead, the relationship between trust in foreigners and proximity to the fault-line mirrors the greater provision of foreign aid and foreign presence in these villages. In villages closest to the fault-line, foreign organizations were the second largest providers of aid after the Pakistan army (despite reports to the contrary aid provision by militant organizations was extremely limited, with less than 1 percent of all respondents reporting any help from such organizations). The results provide a compelling case that trust in foreigners is malleable, responds to humanitarian actions by foreigners and is not a deep-rooted function of local preferences.
Publication( 2011-08-01) Das, Jishnu ; Hammer, Jeffrey ; Sánchez-Paramo, CarolinaBetween 2000 and 2002, the authors followed 1621 individuals in Delhi, India using a combination of weekly and monthly-recall health questionnaires. In 2008, they augmented these data with another 8 weeks of surveys during which households were experimentally allocated to surveys with different recall periods in the second half of the survey. This paper shows that the length of the recall period had a large impact on reported morbidity, doctor visits, time spent sick, whether at least one day of work/school was lost due to sickness, and the reported use of self-medication. The effects are more pronounced among the poor than the rich. In one example, differential recall effects across income groups reverse the sign of the gradient between doctor visits and per-capita expenditures such that the poor use health care providers more than the rich in the weekly recall surveys but less in monthly recall surveys. The authors hypothesize that illnesses -- especially among the poor -- are no longer perceived as "extraordinary events" but have become part of "normal" life. They discuss the implications of these results for health survey methodology, and the economic interpretation of sickness in poor populations.
Publication( 2011-04-01) Das, Jishnu ; Dercon, Stefan ; Habyarimana, James ; Krishnan, Pramila ; Muralidharan, Karthik ; Sundararaman, VenkateshEmpirical studies of the relationship between school inputs and test scores typically do not account for the fact that households will respond to changes in school inputs. This paper presents a dynamic household optimization model relating test scores to school and household inputs, and tests its predictions in two very different low-income country settings -- Zambia and India. The authors measure household spending changes and student test score gains in response to unanticipated as well as anticipated changes in school funding. Consistent with the optimization model, they find in both settings that households offset anticipated grants more than unanticipated grants. They also find that unanticipated school grants lead to significant improvements in student test scores but anticipated grants have no impact on test scores. The results suggest that naïve estimates of public education spending on learning outcomes that do not account for optimal household responses are likely to be considerably biased if used to estimate parameters of an education production function.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2004-02) Das, Jishnu ; Dercon, Stefan ; Habyarimana, James ; Krishnan, PramilaThe relationship between school inputs and educational outcomes is critical for educational policy. The authors recognize that households will respond optimally to changes in school inputs and study how such responses affect the link between school inputs and cognitive achievement. To incorporate the forward-looking behavior of households, the authors present a household optimization model relating household resources and cognitive achievement to school inputs. In this framework, if household and school inputs are technical substitutes in the production function for cognitive achievement, the impact of unanticipated inputs is larger than that of anticipated inputs. The authors test the predictions of the model for nonsalary cash grants to schools using a unique data set from Zambia. They find that household educational expenditures and school cash grants are substitutes with a coefficient of elasticity between -0.35 and -0.52. Consistent with the optimization model, anticipated funds have no impact on cognitive achievement, but unanticipated funds lead to significant improvements in learning. This methodology has important implications for educational research and policy.
Publication(Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2005-03-01) Das, Jishnu ; Do, Quy-Toan ; Ozler, BerkDuring the past decade, the use of conditional cash transfer programs to increase investment in human capital has generated considerable excitement in both research and policy forums. This article surveys the existing literature, which suggests that most conditional cash transfer programs are used for essentially one of two purposes: restoring efficiency when externalities exist or improving equity by targeting resources to poor households. The programs often meet their stated objectives, but in some instances there is tension between the efficiency and equity objectives. The overall impact of a program depends on the gains and losses associated with each objective.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2004-03) Das, Jishnu ; Hammer, Jeffrey S.The quality of medical care is a potentially important determinant of health outcomes. Nevertheless, it remains an understudied area. The limited research that exists defines quality either on the basis of drug availability or facility characteristics, but little is known about how provider quality affects the provision of health care. The authors address this gap through a survey in Delhi with two related components. They evaluate "competence" (what providers know) through vignettes and practice (what providers do) through direct clinical observation. Overall quality as measured by the competence necessary to recognize and handle common and dangerous conditions is quite low, albeit with tremendous variation. While there is some correlation with simple observed characteristics, there is still an enormous amount of variation within such categories. Further, even when providers know what to do they often do not do it in practice. This appears to be true in both the public and private sectors though for very different, and systematic, reasons. In the public sector providers are more likely to commit errors of omission-they are less likely to exert effort compared with their private counterparts. In the private sector, providers are prone to errors of commission-they are more likely to behave according to the patient's expectations, resulting in the inappropriate use of medications, the overuse of antibiotics, and increased expenditures. This has important policy implications for our understanding of how market failures and failures of regulation in the health sector affect the poor.