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 39
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.
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, 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, 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, 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, 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.