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 21
Good Countries or Good Projects?: Comparing Macro and Micro Correlates of World Bank and Asian Development Bank Project Performance(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-04) Bulman, David ; Kolkma, Walter ; Kraay, AartThis paper examines the micro and macro correlates of aid project outcomes in a sample of 3,821 World Bank projects and 1,342 Asian Development Bank projects. Project outcomes vary much more within countries than between countries: country-level characteristics explain only 10–25 percent of project outcomes. Among macro variables, country growth and the policy environment are significantly positively correlated with project outcomes. Among micro variables, shorter project duration and the presence of additional financing are significantly correlated with better project outcomes. In addition, the track record of the project manager in delivering successful projects is highly significantly correlated with project outcomes. There are few significant differences between the two institutions in the relationship between these variables and project outcomes.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-10) Kaufmann, Daniel ; Kraay, AartScholars, policymakers, aid donors, and aid recipients acknowledge the importance of good governance for development. This understanding has spurred an intense interest in more refined, nuanced, and policy-relevant indicators of governance. In this paper we review progress to date in the area of measuring governance, using a simple framework of analysis focusing on two key questions: (i) what do we measure? and, (ii) whose views do we rely on? For the former question, we distinguish between indicators measuring formal laws or rules 'on the books', and indicators that measure the practical application or outcomes of these rules 'on the ground', calling attention to the strengths and weaknesses of both types of indicators as well as the complementarities between them. For the latter question, we distinguish between experts and survey respondents on whose views governance assessments are based, again highlighting their advantages, disadvantages, and complementarities. We also review the merits of aggregate as opposed to individual governance indicators. We conclude with some simple principles to guide the refinement of existing governance indicators and the development of future indicators. We emphasize the need to: transparently disclose and account for the margins of error in all indicators; draw from a diversity of indicators and exploit complementarities among them; submit all indicators to rigorous public and academic scrutiny; and, in light of the lessons of over a decade of existing indicators, to be realistic in the expectations of future indicators.
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.
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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2002-11) Kaufmann, Daniel ; Kraay, AartIt is well known that there is a strong positive correlation between per capita incomes and the quality of governance across countries. the authors propose an empirical strategy that allows separation of this correlation into (1) a strong positive causal effect running from better governance to higher per capita incomes, and, perhaps surprisingly at first, (2) a weak and even negative causal effect running in the opposite direction from per capita incomes to governance. The first result confirms existing evidence on the importance of good governance for economic development. The second result is new and suggests the absence of a "virtuous circle" in which higher incomes lead to further improvements in governance. This motivates the authors' choice of title, "Growth Without Governance." They document this evidence using a newly updated set of worldwide governance-indicators covering 175 countries for the period 2000-01, and use the results to interpret the relationship between incomes and governance focusing on the Latin America and Caribbean region-within a worldwide empirical context. Finally, the authors speculate about the potential importance of elite influence and state capture in accounting for the surprising negative effects of per capita incomes on governance, present some evidence on such capture in some Latin American countries, and suggest priorities for actions to improve governance when such pernicious elite influence shapes public policy.
Publication(Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2006-09-01) Kraay, Aart ; Nehru, VikramThe article empirically examines the determinants of debt distress, defined as periods in which countries resort to any of three forms of exceptional finance: significant arrears on external debt, Paris Club rescheduling, and non-concessional International Monetary Fund lending. Probit regressions show 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. The relative importance of these factors varies with the level of development. These results are robust to a variety of alternative specifications, and the core specifications have substantial out-of-sample predictive power. The quantitative implications of these results are examined for the lending strategies of official creditors.
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.
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 Group, Washington, DC, 2014-08-01) Geli, Patricia ; Kraay, Aart ; Nobakht, HoveidaA number of recent studies have empirically documented links between characteristics of World Bank projects and their ultimate outcomes as evaluated by the World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group. This paper explores the in-sample and out-of-sample predictive performance of empirical models relating project outcomes to project characteristics observed early in the life of a project. Such models perform better than self-assessments of project performance provided by World Bank staff during the implementation of the project. These findings are applied to the problem of predicting eventual Independent Evaluation Group ratings for currently active projects in the World Bank's portfolio.