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Human Development & Public Services: Articles and Briefs







Timing of Evaluations and Duration of Exposure Affect Estimates of Program Impact
Spring 2009
Impact evaluations often ignore the importance of timing and duration. A study by Elizabeth M. King and Jere R. Behrman cautions that evaluations need to be timed right in order to ensure that impacts are adequately captured. It also argues that duration of exposure can be exploited as a means to measure impacts.
Research Digest

Financial crisis highlights need for more social safety nets, including conditional cash transfers
February 2009
A new book by Ariel Fiszbein and Norbert Schady evaluates CCT programs that offer qualifying families cash in exchange for commitments such as taking babies to health clinics regularly or keeping children in school. It finds that these programs — where the responsibility for breaking out of poverty is shared by the state and poor households — can reduce poverty both in the short and long term, particularly when supported by better public services.
Policy Research Report - Conditional Cash Transfers: Reducing Present and Future Poverty.

Social Safety Nets: Lessons from Rich and Poor Countries
April 2009, Featured Article (non-technical)

  • Social safety nets can help stabilize economies as well as help poor people
  • The two stars of social protection: conditional cash transfers and guaranteed relief work
  • Details of program design and implementation are crucial to success.
Conditional Cash Transfers: Paying People to Invest in Children
February 12, 2009 - A new World Bank report, Conditional Cash Transfers: Reducing Present and Future Poverty, takes stock of programs that give poor families cash to keep children in school or take them to health clinics, noting that they work well to help reduce poverty and invest in tomorrow’s adults. Research Article (non-technical)
The Preference for Sons Does Not Always Decrease with Development
February 12, 2009 New evidence suggests development does not reduce parental preference for sons over daughters in countries where such a preference exists. Indeed, modernization may be associated with higher, not lower, son preference in some areas. Web Brief (technical)
Public Opinion Influences the Level and Effectiveness of Foreign Aid
February 2, 2009 During severe economic downturns such as the world is experiencing, public attitudes toward aid will determine whether or not donor governments will be able to generate support from voters and taxpayers for more aid. Web Brief (technical)

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Does Community Monitoring Improve Public Services? Diverging Evidence from Uganda and India
September 16, 2008 Diverging results from evaluations of two community monitoring programs in health and education suggest that local monitoring does not guarantee better service delivery. Web Brief

Exploring New Policy Questions in HIV/AIDS Treatment
August 1, 2008, World Bank researchers work with country partners to collect and analyze new survey data that could shape future health policy and improve the design of HIV/AIDS treatment programs. Web Article (nontechnical)
Armed Conflict and Schooling: Long-term Evidence from Cambodia and Rwanda
May 25, 2008 New data on the microeconomic impacts of war for non-combatants show that the journey out of conflict is a shaky one—for a long time, especially for young people. Two recent studies investigate the long-term effect of genocide on schooling outcomes in Cambodia and Rwanda. They both find long-term negative impacts for the affected cohorts. Web Brief (technical)

Rural to Urban Migration in China: How Do Migrant-Sending Communities Benefit?
April 8, 2008 Research on the effects of rural to urban migration in China shows a positive relationship between consumption and income of households in migrant home communities, but no significant relationship between migration and investment in non-agricultural productive assets. The ability to migrate is also associated with a drop in secondary school enrollment.
 Web Brief (technical)

Improving Nutritional Status through Behavioral Change: Lessons from Madagascar
January 11, 2008 A recent impact evaluation study of a community based nutrition program in Madagascar shows that malnutrition can be improved over the short- and long-term when mothers participate in community health programs that promote behavioral change in nutrition, feeding, and hygiene practices. The study highlights important complementarities between maternal education, knowledge, and community infrastructure to achieve improvements in children’s nutritional status. Web Brief (technical)
Schooling in Developing Countries
Spring 2008 The expanding frontier of research on education in developing countries offers many lessons for policy.
 Research Digest (nontechnical)
Improving Nutrition through Community Growth Promotion in Uganda
Spring 2008 A rigorous evaluation confirms the efficacy of a community-based approach to promoting children’s growth. Research Digest (nontechnical)

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Trends in HIV/AIDS Data – Highlights from World Bank Research
November 26, 2007 World Bank research attempts to fill critical knowledge gaps, including:how HIV spreads through society;approaches that work best for prevention and treatment delivery;the impact of AIDS-related deaths on people, households and economies.
 Web Article (nontechnical)

Infant Mortality over the Business Cycle in the Developing World
November 9, 2007 Research on income fluctuations in per capita GDP and child survival in 59 countries shows a strong, negative association between changes in per capita GDP and infant mortality. The results suggest that over 1 million excess deaths have occurred in the developing world during 1980-2004 in countries experiencing economic contractions of 10 percent or greater. Web Brief  (technical)
Democracy by Other Means? Legalizing Demand for Social and Economic Rights in the Developing World
October 9, 2007 Are there reforms in institutional design that might make governments more accountable for failures to provide basic services and alleviate poverty? This topic has been the subject of an important debate in development economics, comparative politics, and development practice since the early 1990s, when governance became a priority for development. A principal means to increase accountability in democracies—judicial review—has received scant attention. Web Brief (technical)
Strengthening Education: Approaches that Work
June 2007 Much has recently been achieved in education in developing countries. But it remains critical to understand the gaps and deficiencies that still exist. This article summarizes the latest research on approaches to strengthening education that have worked well. Featured Article 
China’s “Missing Girls”—Son Preference or Hepatitis B Infections?
April 2, 2007 The evidence suggests that parental preferences overwhelmingly shape the imbalanced sex ratio in China, as elsewhere in Asia. It appears governments have been correct to assume that son preference is the main factor behind the “missing girls” and to focus their policies on changing the cultural roots of son preference. Web Brief (technical) (Available in Chinese)
Youth and Citizenship
February 6, 2007 The World Development Report 2007: Development and the Next Generation analyzes five key transitions that young people undergo as they enter adulthood—completing education, entering the labor market, taking responsibility for their own health, starting their own families, and exercising citizenship. This research brief—based on a chapter on citizenship in the report—reviews the institutions through which young people encounter their social and political world, and the implications of citizenship for development. Web Brief (technical)
Disability, Poverty, and Schooling in Developing Countries
Fall 2007 Children with disabilities are less likely to acquire the education they need to earn high incomes and avoid poverty. Research Digest (nontechnical)
Fungibility and the “Flypaper Effect” of Aid 
Spring 2007 Some donor aid for a road project was diverted to recipients’ own priorities—but it did stick to the road sector. Research Digest (nontechnical)

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Cushioning the Effects of Health Shocks on Households
December 18, 2006 Health shocks—in the form of a death, the onset of disability, the arrival of a new chronic illness, even an acute illness—can have devastating effects on households. Recent research sheds light on the importance of health shocks and the range and effectiveness of mechanisms to reduce their impacts. Web Brief (technical) (Available in Chinese)
Fiscal Decentralization in China—Potential Next Steps
December 5, 2006 Fiscal decentralization is widely recognized as an essential component in China’s remarkable transition to a market economy. However, the intergovernmental fiscal system is now hitting a few snags—increasing regional disparities, proliferation of off-budgetary funds, deficient and unequal public services delivery, farmers’ financial burden, and rural unrest. What happened? And what happens now? Web Brief (technical) (Available in Chinese)
Getting Girls into School: Evidence from Cambodia  
Winter 2006 Cash incentives for families to enroll girls in school can work even in low-income countries with relatively low-quality schools. Research Digest
The Effects of Donor Fragmentation on Bureaucratic Quality in Aid-Recipient Countries
November 1, 2006 Aid-recipient countries must deal with an ever-growing array of donors and non-governmental organizations. And while sums in dollar terms for each donor have risen in the last couple of years, research using collective action theory and cross-country data suggests that the consequences of too many small donors and increasing aid fragmentation takes a toll on the overall success of aid. Research Brief (Available in Arabic, Chinese)
Discordant Couples and HIV/AIDS Transmission in Five African Countries
October 2, 2006 New research findings on discordant couples—where only one of the two partners is infected with HIV/AIDS—is challenging pervasive assumptions about the determinants of HIV/AIDS transmission to the general population in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania.Web Brief (technical) (Available in Chinese, French)
Money for Nothing, the Dire Straits of Medical Practice in Delhi 
Fall 2006 Provider competence and effort both play a role in the quality of care. Research Digest
Investing in Early Childhood Development
August 28, 2006 Profound nutritional and cognitive deficits early in life doom many children in developing countries to low educational achievement and low economic productivity. Research shows that investing in nutrition during the pre-school years—and as early as possible—reaps significant long-term human capital and economic dividends. Web Brief (technical) (Available in Chinese, Spanish) 
Orphanhood, Poverty, and School Enrollment
June 25, 2006 Children in developing countries are losing their parents to AIDS, war, and other tragedies. How likely are they to be less educated? A recent study examines parental survival, poverty, and school enrollment to answer the question of whether orphan status is a good predictor of lower enrollment in poor countries. Web Brief (technical)
In Quest of Institutions that Promote Fiscal Discipline
March 14, 2006 Research analyzing political constraints to fiscal discipline in large developing countries has recently produced some provocative results on how politics influences fiscal policy. This work is being synthesized to identify a potentially powerful institutional solution to the problem of politically motivated fiscal deficits. Web Brief (technical)

Missing in Action: Teacher and Medical Provider Absence in Developing Countries
March 6, 2006 Absenteeism of teachers and medical personnel is widely acknowledged as a barrier to improvement of education and health outcomes in developing countries, especially in South Asia. Developing-country governments often spend 80 to 90 percent of their recurrent education budgets on teachers, without the most basic of returns – getting all teachers to show up at work. Web Article (nontechnical)

A New Look at Quality of Medical Care in Low-Income Countries
February 14, 2006 No matter how one looks at it—as differences across nations or as differences within nations—poor people systematically suffer from worse health outcomes than rich people. What role does medical care play? Web Brief (technical)

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Do Macroeconomic Crises Affect Schooling and Child Health? Evidence from Peru
November 8, 2005 Over the past two decades a large number of countries have experienced economic crises that led to sharp reductions in incomes and living standards. How has this affected schooling and health outcomes? Web Brief (technical)

Missing in Action: Teacher and Medical Provider Absence in Developing Countries
October 1, 2005 Provider absenteeism is high in poorer countries and states. A recent study shows that absence ranges from 11 to 27 percent among primary-school teachers, and from 23 to 40 percent among medical personnel. What do the levels and patterns of these data tell us? Web Brief (technical)

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Last updated: 2009-11-13

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