Development Research Group, The World Bank
Author Name Variants
Fields of Specialization
Macroeconomics, Debt management, Economic growth, Inequality and shared prosperity
Development Research Group, The World Bank
Externally Hosted Work
Last updated January 31, 2023
Aart Kraay is Director of Research in the Development Research Group at the World Bank. He joined the World Bank in 1995 after earning a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University (1995), and a B.Sc. in economics from the University of Toronto (1990). His research interests include international capital movements, growth and inequality, governance, and the Chinese economy. His research on these topics has been published in scholarly journals such as the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Review of Economics and Statistics, the Economic Journal, the Journal of Monetary Economics, the Journal of International Economics, and the Journal of the European Economic Association. He is an associate editor of the Journal of Development Economics, and co-editor of the World Bank Economic Review. He has also held visiting positions at the International Monetary Fund and the Sloan School of Management at MIT, and has taught at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 32
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-08) Dollar, David ; Kleineberg, Tatjana ; Kraay, AartIncomes in the poorest two quintiles on average increase at the same rate as overall average incomes. This is because, in a global dataset spanning 118 countries over the past four decades, changes in the share of income of the poorest quintiles are generally small and uncorrelated with changes in average income. The variation in changes in quintile shares is also small relative to the variation in growth in average incomes, implying that the latter accounts for most of the variation in income growth in the poorest quintiles. These findings hold across most regions and time periods and when conditioning on a variety of country-level factors that may matter for growth and inequality changes. This evidence confirms the central importance of economic growth for poverty reduction and illustrates the difficulty of identifying specific macroeconomic policies that are significantly associated with the relative growth rates of those in the poorest quintiles.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-05) Jarotschkin, Alexandra ; Kraay, AartAid donors and recipients have long been concerned that aid inflows may lead to an appreciation of the real exchange rate and an associated loss of competitiveness. This paper provides new evidence of the dynamic effects of aid on the real exchange rate, using an identification strategy that exploits the long delays between the approval of aid projects and the subsequent disbursements on them. These disbursement delays enable the isolation of a source of variation in aid inflows that is uncorrelated with contemporaneous macroeconomic shocks that may drive both aid and the real exchange rate. Using this predetermined component of aid as an instrument, there is little evidence that aid inflows lead to significant real exchange rate appreciations.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-05) Kraay, Aart ; Murrell, PeterEstimates of the extent of corruption rely largely on self-reports of individuals, business managers, and government officials. Yet it is well known that survey respondents are reticent to tell the truth about activities to which social and legal stigma are attached, implying a downward bias in survey-based estimates of corruption. This paper develops a method to estimate the prevalence of reticent behavior, in order to isolate rates of corruption that fully reflect respondent reticence in answering sensitive questions. The method is based on a statistical model of how respondents behave when answering a combination of conventional and random-response survey questions. The responses to these different types of questions reflect three probabilities -- that the respondent has done the sensitive act in question, that the respondent exhibits reticence in answering sensitive questions, and that a reticent respondent is not candid in answering any specific sensitive question. These probabilities can be estimated using a method-of-moments estimator. Evidence from the 2010 World Bank Enterprise survey in Peru suggests reticence-adjusted estimates of corruption that are roughly twice as large as indicated by responses to standard questions. Reticence-adjusted estimates of corruption are also substantially higher in a set of ten Asian countries covered in the Gallup World Poll.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-02) Kraay, Aart ; Serven, LuisThe financial crisis of 2007/2008, the subsequent great recession in rich countries and its propagation to developing countries has sparked a renewed interest in the role of fiscal policy as a potential countercyclical tool among policymakers and researchers. This paper reviews the state of empirical evidence on the effectiveness of discretionary countercyclical fiscal policy by placing a particular emphasis on developing countries. On the whole, successful fiscal interventions of this type have been rare in the developing world. This note also briefly reviews contrasting experiences of success and failure in industrial and developing countries. It concludes with several recommendations motivated by past experiences policymakers should consider before adopting any fiscal responses to the current crisis.
Government Spending Multipliers in Developing Countries : Evidence from Lending by Official Creditors(American Economic Association, 2014-10) Kraay, AartThis paper uses a novel loan-level dataset covering lending by official creditors to developing country governments to construct an instrument for government spending. These loans typically finance multi-year spending projects, with disbursements linked to the stages of project implementation. The identification strategy exploits the long lags between approval and eventual disbursement of these loans to isolate a predetermined component of public spending associated with past loan approval decisions taken before the realization of contemporaneous shocks. In a large sample of 102 developing countries over the period 1970-2010, the one-year spending multiplier is reasonably-precisely estimated to be around 0.4.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-02) Eden, Maya ; Kraay, AartThis paper estimates the effect of government investment on private investment in a sample of 39 low-income countries. Fluctuations in a predetermined component of disbursements on loans from official creditors to developing country governments are used as an instrument for fluctuations in public investment. The analysis finds evidence of "crowding in": an extra dollar of government investment raises private investment by roughly two dollars, and output by 1.5 dollars. To understand the implications for the return to public investment, a CES production function with public and private capital as inputs is calibrated. For most countries in the sample, the returns to government investment exceed the world interest rate. However, for some countries that already have high government investment rates, the return to further investment is below the world interest rate.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-04) Kraay, Aart ; McKenzie, DavidThis paper reviews the empirical evidence on the existence of poverty traps, understood as self-reinforcing mechanisms through which poor individuals or countries remain poor. Poverty traps have captured the interest of many development policy makers, because poverty traps provide a theoretically coherent explanation for persistent poverty. They also suggest that temporary policy interventions may have long-term effects on poverty. However, a review of the reduced-form empirical evidence suggests that truly stagnant incomes of the sort predicted by standard models of poverty traps are in fact quite rare. Moreover, the empirical evidence regarding several canonical mechanisms underlying models of poverty traps is mixed.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-04) Dollar, David ; Kleineberg, Tatjana ; Kraay, AartSocial welfare functions that assign weights to individuals based on their income levels can be used to document the relative importance of growth and inequality changes for changes in social welfare. In a large panel of industrial and developing countries over the past 40 years, most of the cross-country and over-time variation in changes in social welfare is due to changes in average incomes. In contrast, the changes in inequality observed during this period are on average much smaller than changes in average incomes, are uncorrelated with changes in average incomes, and have contributed relatively little to changes in social welfare.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-10) Eden, Maya ; Kraay, Aart ; Qian, RongThis paper uses a large cross-country dataset to empirically examine factors associated with sovereign defaults on external private creditors and expropriation of foreign direct investments in developing countries since the 1970s. In the long run, sovereign defaults and expropriations are likely to occur in the same countries. In the short run, however, these events are uncorrelated. Defaults are more likely to occur following periods of rapid debt accumulation, when growth is low, and in countries with weak policy performance, and defaults are not strongly persistent over time. In contrast, expropriations are not systematically related to the level of foreign direct investment, to growth, or to policy performance. Expropriations are however less likely under right-wing governments, and are strongly persistent over time. There is also little evidence that a history of recent defaults is associated with expropriations, and vice versa. The paper discusses the implications of these findings for models that emphasize retaliation as means for sustaining sovereign borrowing and foreign investment in equilibrium, as well as the implications for political risk insurance against the two types of events.
Government Spending Multipliers in Developing Countries : Evidence from Lending by Official Creditors(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-06) Kraay, AartThis paper uses a novel loan-level dataset covering lending by official creditors to developing country governments to construct an instrument for public spending that can be used to estimate government spending multipliers. Loans from official creditors (primarily multilateral development banks and bilateral aid agencies) are a major source of financing for government spending in developing countries. These loans typically finance public spending projects that take several years to implement, with multiple disbursements linked to the stages of project implementation. The long disbursement periods for these loans imply that the bulk of government spending financed by official creditors in a given year reflects loan approval decisions made in many previous years, before current-year macroeconomic shocks are known. Loan-level commitment and disbursement transactions from the World Bank's Debtor Reporting System database are used to isolate a predetermined component of government spending associated with past loan approvals. This can be used as an instrument to estimate spending multipliers for a large sample of 102 developing countries. The one-year government spending multiplier is reasonably-precisely estimated to be around 0.4, and there is some suggestive evidence that multipliers are larger in recessions, in countries less exposed to international trade, and in countries with flexible exchange rate regimes.