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Human Development and Public Services

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This research program spans the full gamut of human development — education, health, labor markets, and social protection. It examines the performance of the sectors in terms of levels and inequalities in utilization, quality and outcomes, as well as methods for improving performance, whether aimed at households, service providers, politicians and policymakers, or donors.    More »


U.S. and Them: The Geography of Academic Research
Jishnu Das, Quy-Toan Do, Karen Shaines, Sowmya Srikant
Journal of Development Economics 105: 12-130, November 2013
Using a database of 76,046 empirical economics papers published between 1985 and 2005, we report two associations. First, research output on a given country increases with the country's population and wealth, yielding a strong correlation between per-capita research output and per-capita GDP. Regressions controlling for data quality, governance and the use of English give an estimated research–wealth elasticity of 0.32; surprisingly, the U.S. is not an outlier.

School feeding programs, intrahousehold allocation and the nutrition of siblings: Evidence from a randomized trial in rural Burkina Faso
Harounan Kazianga, Damien de Walque, Harold Alderman
Journal of Development Economics 106: 15-34, 2014.
This paper evaluates the impact of two school feeding schemes on health outcomes of pre-school age children in Burkina Faso: school meals which provide students with lunch each school day, and take home rations which provide girls with 10 kg of cereal flour each month, conditional on 90% attendance rate.

Lasting Welfare Effects of Widowhood in Mali 
Dominique van de Walle
World Development 51: 1-19, November 2013
Widows and their children are largely hidden from view in the data used to inform social policy discussions in Africa. Data for Mali reveal that households headed by widows have significantly lower living standards than other households in rural and urban areas.

How Beliefs about HIV Status Affect Risky Behaviors: Evidence from Malawi 
Aureo De Paula, Gil Shapira and Petra E. Todd
Journal of Econometric Methods 2(1):69–87, August 2013
The article describes the monitoring and evaluation design of the Kenya national school-based deworming program and presents results from the baseline survey conducted in early 2012.


Expanding Social Insurance Coverage in Urban China
John Giles, Research Brief, Fall 2013
Social insurance coverage in China has expanded, but a significant share of the urban population still lacks coverage.This research highlights both the progress made in increasing social insurance coverage and the significant difficulties in further expanding it.

Risking Your Health
Damien de Walque, Blog, November 20, 2013
All over the world, people engage in behaviors that are risky for their health. They smoke, use illicit drugs, drink too much alcohol, eat unhealthy food or adopt sedentary lifestyles, and have risky sexual encounters. As a consequence, they endanger their health, reduce their own life expectancy, and often impose harmful consequences on others.
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Is the New York Times Ethicist a Better Economist than…..The Economist?
Jishnu Das, Blog, November 5, 2013
The Economist's conclusion about cash transfers to the poor: "Giving money to poor people works surprisingly well. But it cannot deal with the deeper causes of poverty”. But a New York Times ethicist takes the question head on.

The Academic Sting Operation
Adam Wagstaff, Blog, October 28, 2013
Nobody likes to be stung. Doctors regard it as unethical. Publishers say it betrays the trust of their profession. But the fact is, as three recent studies have demonstrated, sting operations can be extremely effective at exposing questionable professional practices, and answering questions that other methods can't credibly answer.

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The Elderly and Old Age Support in Rural China
March 2012 - This book examines projected demographic changes that will affect the economic well-being of China’s rural elderly over the next 20 years, taking into account both China’s sharp demographic transition and the continued migration of young adults to cities. The projected old age dependency ratio of 34 percent in China’s rural areas by 2030 suggests that support of the elderly is likely to be an increasing burden on China’s families.
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Health Equity and Financial Protection: Streamlined Analysis with ADePT Software
May 2011 - This book provides ADePT Health, a free-standing computer program that allows users to produce quickly - and with the minimal risk of errors - most standard tablesin applied health and equity analysis. ADePT produces summary statistics and charts that allow inequalities to be compared across countries and over time. This manual explains the methods ADePT uses, how to prepare data for it, how to navigate the ADePT interface to generate the desired tables and charts, and how to interpret them.Order | Download

Making Schools Work: New Evidence on Accountability Reforms Barbara Bruns, Deon Filmer, Harry Anthony Patrinos
February 2011 - This book is about the threats to education quality in the developing world that cannot be explained by lack of resources. It reviews the observed phenomenon of service delivery failures in public education: cases where programs and policies increase the inputs to education but do not produce effective services where it counts – in schools and classrooms.
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Is Workfare Cost-Effective against Poverty in a Poor Labor-Surplus Economy?
Martin Ravallion, Rinku Murgai, Martin Ravallion, Dominique van de Walle
Workfare schemes impose work requirements on beneficiaries. This has seemed an attractive idea for self-targeting transfers to poor people. This incentive argument does not imply, however, that workfare is more cost-effective against poverty than even poorly-targeted options, given hidden costs of participation.
Working Paper 6673, October 2013

Testing information constraints on India's largest antipoverty program
Martin Ravallion, Dominique van de Wallestrong>, Puja Dutta, and Rinku Murgai
Public knowledge about India's ambitious Employment Guarantee Scheme is low in one of India's poorest states, Bihar, where participation is also unusually low. Is the solution simply to tell people their rights? Or does their lack of knowledge reflect deeper problems of poor people's agency and an unresponsive supply side?
Working Paper 6598, September 2013

China's 2008 Labor Contract Law: Implementation and Implications for China's Workers
Mary Gallagher, John Giles, and others
This paper presents empirical evidence from household and firm survey data collected during 2009-2010 on the implementation of the 2008 Labor Contract Law and its effects on China's workers.
Working Paper 6542, July 2013

Incentivizing Schooling for Learning: Evidence on the Impact of Alternative Targeting Approaches
Felipe Barrera-Osorio, Deon Filmer
This paper evaluates a primary school scholarship program in Cambodia with two different targeting mechanisms, one based on poverty level and the other on baseline test scores ("merit").
Working Paper 6541, July 2013


Publications (2008-2013)

Boogle map of the countries covered by selected research
The map shows research on human development by research department staff, 2008-2013.


Research Manager

Adam Wagstaff
Adam Wagstaff

Last updated: 2013-12-04

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