Development Research Group, The World Bank
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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 18
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, D.C., 2004-04) Kraay, Aart ; Loayza, Norman ; Servén, Luis ; Ventura, JaumeCapital flows to developing countries are small and take mostly the form of loans rather than direct foreign investment. We build a simple model of North-South capital flows that highlights the interplay between diminishing returns, production risk and sovereign risk. This model generates a set of country portfolios and a world distribution of capital stocks that resemble those in the data.
Product Quality, Productive Efficiency, and International Technology Diffusion : Evidence from Plant-Level Panel Data(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2002-01) Kraay, Aart ; Soloaga, Isidro ; Tybout, JamesWhat mechanisms most frequently transmit foreign technologies to developing country firms? Do these foreign technologies affect both productive efficiency and product quality in the recipient firms? Under what circumstances do firms pursue activities that give them access to foreign knowledge? To address these questions, the authors develop a new methodology and apply the framework to plant-level panel data from Colombia, Mexico, and Morocco. Their results point to several basic messages. First, by imposing enough structure on the production function and the demand system, it is possible to measure product quality and marginal costs at the plant level and to relate the evolution of these variables to firms' activity histories. Doing so, the authors find strong firm-level persistence in both quality and marginal costs. But in most industry or country panels that they study, past international activities help little in predicting current performance once past realizations on quality and marginal cost are controlled for. That is, activities do not typically Granger-cause performance. Interestingly, in the minority of cases where significant associations emerge, international activities appear to move costs and product quality in the same direction. So the net effect on profits in these cases is not immediately apparent. Second, several basic patterns emerge with respect to the determinants of international activities. Most fundamentally, activities are highly persistent, even after unobserved heterogeneity is controlled for. That suggests that firms incur sunk threshold costs when they initiate or cease activities, so temporary policy or macroeconomic shocks may have long-run effects on the patterns of activities observed in a particular country or industry. Also, activities tend to go together, so that studies that relate firms' performance to one international activity and ignore the others may generate misleading conclusions. But the bundling of activities seems to mainly reflect unobserved plant characteristics, such as managerial philosophy, contacts, product niche, and location. Once these are controlled for, there is little evidence that engaging in one international activity increases the probability that a firm will engage in others in the future.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2004-02) Kraay, Aart ; Nehru, VikramThis paper examines the determinants of "debt distress," which they define as periods in which countries resort to exceptional finance in any of three forms: (1) significant arrears on external debt, (2) Paris Club rescheduling, and (3) nonconcessional International Monetary Fund lending. Using probit regressions, the authors find that three factors explain a substantial fraction of the cross-country and time-series variation in the incidence of debt distress: the debt burden, the quality of policies and institutions, and shocks. They show that these results are robust to a variety of alternative specifications, and that their core specifications have substantial out-of-sample predictive power. The authors also explore the quantitative implications of these results for the lending strategies of official creditors.
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, 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, 2001-04) Dollar, David ; Kraay, AartWhen average income rises, the average incomes of the poorest fifth of society rise proportionately. This is a consequence of the strong empirical regularity that the share of income accruing to the bottom quintile does not vary systematically with average income. The authors document this empirical regularity in a sample of 92 countries spanning the past four decades and show that it holds across regions, periods, income levels, and growth rates. The authors next ask whether the factors that explain cross-country differences in the growth rates of average incomes have differential effects on the poorest fifth of society. They find that several determinants of growth--such as good rule of law, opennness to international trade, and developed financial markets--have little systematic effect on the share of income that accrues to the bottom quintile. Consequently, these factors benefit the poorest fifth of society as much as everyone else. Thee is some weak evidence that stabilization from high inflation and reductions in the overall size of government not only increase growth but also increase the income share of the poorest fifth in society. Finally, the authors examine several factors commonly thought to disproportionately benefit the poorest in society, but find little evidence of their effects. The absence of robust findings emphasizes that relatively little is known about the broad forces that account for the cross-country and intertemporal variation in the share of income accruing to the poorest fifth of society.
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, 2003-03) Dollar, David ; Kraay, AartSeveral recent papers have attempted to identify the partial effects of trade integration and institutional quality on long-run growth using the geographical determinants of trade and the historical determinants of institutions as instruments. The authors show that many of the specifications in these papers are weakly identified despite the apparently good performance of the instruments in first-stage regressions. Consequently, they argue that the cross-country variation in institutions, trade, and their geographical and historical determinants is not very informative about the partial effects of these variables on long-run growth.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2001-06) Dollar, David ; Kraay, AartThe evidence from individual cases and from cross-country analysis supports the view that globalization leads to faster growth and poverty reduction in poor countries. To determine the effect of globalization on growth, poverty, and inequality, the authors first identify a group of developing countries that are participating more in globalization. China, India, and several other large countries are part of this group, so well over half the population of the developing world lives in these globalizing economies. Over the past 20 years, the post-1980 globalizers have seen large increases in trade and significant declines in tariffs. Their growth rates accelerated between the 1970s and the 1980s and again between the 1980s and the 1990s, even as growth in the rich countries and the rest of the developing world slowed. The post-1980 globalizers are catching up to the rich countries, but the rest of the developing world (the non-globalizers) is falling further behind. Next, the authors ask how general these patterns are, using regressions that exploit within-country variations in trade and growth. After controlling for changes in other policies and addressing endogeneity with internal instruments, they find that trade has a strong positive effect on growth. Finally, the authors examine the effects of trade on the poor. They find little systematic evidence of a relationship between changes in trade volumes (or any other measure of globalization they consider) and changes in the income share of the poorest-or between changes in trade volumes and changes in household income inequality. They conclude, therefore, that the increase in growth rates that accompanies expanded trade translates on average into proportionate increases in incomes of the poor. Absolute poverty in the globalizing developing economies has fallen sharply in the past 20 years. The evidence from individual cases and from cross-country analysis supports the view that globalization leads to faster growth and poverty reduction in poor countries.