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 11
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., 2004-02) Kraay, AartGrowth is pro-poor if the poverty measure of interest falls. According to this definition there are three potential sources of pro-poor growth: (1) a high rate of growth of average incomes; (2) a high sensitivity of poverty to growth in average incomes; and (3) a poverty-reducing pattern of growth in relative incomes. The author empirically decomposes changes in poverty in a large sample of developing countries during the 1980s and 1990s into these three components. In the medium to long run, most of the variation in changes in poverty can be attributed to growth in average incomes, suggesting that policies and institutions that promote broad-based growth should be central to the pro-poor growth agenda. Most of the remainder of the variation in poverty is due to poverty-reducing patterns of growth in relative incomes, rather than differences in the sensitivity of poverty to growth in average incomes. Cross-country evidence provides relatively little guidance as to the policies and institutions that promote these other sources of pro-poor growth.
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, 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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2000-09) Ghosh, Swati R. ; Kraay, AartGains in total factor productivity (TFP) reflecting more efficient use of inputs, have long been recognized as an important source of improvements in income and welfare. Cross-country differences in income levels and growth rates are mostly due to differences in productivity. Measuring TFP is therefore important in assessing countries' past and potential economic performance. But it is also difficult. This note discusses some of the difficulties using data for the Republic of Korea in 1960-70 for illustration.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2000-01) Kraay, AartDrawing on evidence from a large sample of speculative attacks in industrial and developing countries, the author argues that high interest rates do not defend currencies against speculative attacks. In fact, there is a striking lack of any systematic association between interest rates and the outcome of speculative attacks. The lack of clear empirical evidence on the effects of high interest rates during speculative attacks mirrors the theoretical ambiguities on this issue.
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.