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 10
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, 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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-06) Kraay, Aart ; Raddatz, ClaudioThe authors examine the empirical evidence in support of the poverty trap view of underdevelopment. They calibrate simple aggregate growth models in which poverty traps can arise due to either low saving or low technology at low levels of development. They then use these models to assess the empirical relevance of poverty traps and their consequences for policy. The authors find little evidence of the existence of poverty traps based on these two broad mechanisms. When put to the task of explaining the persistence of low income in African countries, the models require either unreasonable values for key parameters, or else generate counterfactual predictions regarding the relations between key variables. These results call into question the view that a large scaling-up of aid to the poorest countries is a necessary condition for sharp and sustained increases in growth.
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, 2009-12) Clausen, Bianca ; Kraay, Aart ; Nyiri, ZsoltWell-functioning institutions matter for economic development. In order to operate effectively, public institutions must also inspire confidence in those they serve. The authors use data from the Gallup World Poll, a unique and very large global household survey, to document a quantitatively large and statistically significant negative correlation between corruption and confidence in public institutions. This suggests an important channel through which corruption can inhibit development by eroding confidence in public institutions. This correlation is robust to the inclusion of a large set of controls for country and respondent-level characteristics, and they show how it can plausibly be interpreted as reflecting at least in part a causal effect from corruption to confidence. The authors also show that individuals with low confidence in institutions exhibit low levels of political participation, show increased tolerance for violent means to achieve political ends, and have a greater desire to "vote with their feet" through emigration.
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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-04) Kaufmann, Daniel ; Kraay, Aart ; Mastruzzi, MassimoThe report points out that over the past decade measuring corruption has become an ever-growing empirical field. This empirical analysis questions the traditional notion of viewing the firm as an 'investment climate taker' and thus ignoring the view that powerful conglomerates can also shape the business climate and thus become 'investment climate makers'. The study implies that it is warranted to move away from simply blaming government officials for prevailing corruption, and to question the value of popular initiatives such as voluntary-and often un-monitorable-codes of conduct. In this report, some popular notions are espoused, which either lack clarity or are not backed up by rigorous analysis or evidence. In this article the authors highlight some of the main issues in these debates, in the form of seven myths and their associated realities, and conclude by also pointing to some brief implications for the private sector role in fighting corruption.