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 10
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, 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, 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, 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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-08) Geginat, Carolin ; Kraay, AartMultilateral development banks are frequently accused of "defensive lending," the practice of extending new loans purely in order to ensure that existing loans are repaid. This paper empirically examine this hypothesis using data on lending by and repayments to the International Development Association (IDA), which is the largest provider of concessional development loans to low-income countries. The authors argue that key institutional features of IDA both (i) potentially create incentives for defensive lending, and (ii) enable particularly sharp tests of the defensive lending hypothesis. The authors find that there is a surprisingly robust partial correlation between disbursements on new IDA loans and repayments on existing loans. However, a closer look at the evidence suggests that defensive lending is unlikely to be a major explanation for this partial correlation.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-04) Kraay, AartThe Egyptian pound depreciated sharply between 2000 and 2005, declining by 26 percent in nominal trade-weighted terms. The author investigates the effect of the large depreciation on household welfare operating through exchange rate-induced changes in consumer prices. He estimates exchange rate pass-through regressions using disaggregated monthly consumer price indices to isolate the impact of the exchange rate changes on consumer prices. Then he uses household-level data from the 2000 and 2005 Egyptian household surveys to quantify the welfare effects of these consumer price changes at the household level. The average welfare loss due to exchange rate-induced price increases was equivalent to 7.4 percent of initial expenditure. Stronger estimated exchange rate pass-through for food items imply that this effect disproportionately affected poorer households.
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.
Weak Instruments in Growth Regressions: Implications for Recent Cross-Country Evidence on Inequality and Growth(World Health Organization, 2015-11) Kraay, AartThis paper revisits four recent cross-country empirical studies on the effects of inequality on growth. All four studies report strongly significant negative effects, using the popular system generalized method of moments estimator that is frequently used in cross-country growth empirics. This paper shows that the internal instruments relied on by this estimator in these inequality-and-growth regressions are weak, and that weak instrument-consistent confidence sets for the effect of inequality on growth include a wide range of positive and negative values. This suggests that strong conclusions about the effect of inequality on growth— in either direction—cannot be drawn from these studies. This paper also systematically explores a wide range of alternative sets of internal instruments, and finds that problems of weak instruments are pervasive across these alternatives. More generally, the paper illustrates the importance of documenting instrument strength, basing inferences on procedures that are robust to weak instruments, and considering alternative instrument sets when using the system generalized method of moments estimator for cross-country growth empirics.