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 »
The last few years have seen a growing commitment worldwide to universal health coverage (UHC). Yet there is a lack of clarity on how to measure progress towards UHC. We propose a ‘mashup’ index that captures both aspects of UHC: that everyone—irrespective of their ability-to-pay—gets the health services they need; and that nobody suffers undue financial hardship as a result of receiving care.
This paper evaluates the impact on cost and utilization of a shift from fee-for-service to capitation payment of district hospitals by Vietnam's social health insurance agency. Hospital fixed effects analysis suggests that capitation leads to reduced costs. Hospitals also increased service provision to the uninsured who continue to pay out-of-pocket on a fee-for-service basis. The study points to the need to anticipate unintended effects of payment reforms, especially in the context of a multiple purchaser system.
Subsidized voluntary enrollment in government-run health insurance schemes is often proposed as a way of increasing coverage among informal sector workers and their families. We report the results of a cluster randomized experiment, in which 3000 households in 20 communes in Vietnam were randomly assigned at baseline to a control group or one of three treatments: an information leaflet about Vietnam's government-run scheme and the benefits of health insurance, a voucher entitling eligible household members to 25% off their annual premium, and both. At baseline, the four groups had similar enrollment rates (4%) and were balanced on plausible enrollment determinants.
A cluster randomized experiment was undertaken testing two sets of interventions encouraging enrollment in the Individually Paying Program (IPP), the voluntary component of the Philippines' social health insurance program. In early 2011, 1037 unenrolled IPP-eligible families in 179 randomly selected intervention municipalities were given an information kit and offered a 50% premium subsidy valid until the end of 2011; 383 IPP-eligible families in 64 control municipalities were not. In February 2012, the 787 families in the intervention sites who were still IPP-eligible but had not enrolled had their vouchers extended, were resent the enrollment kits and received SMS reminders.
The shock of widowhood: Marital status and poverty in Africa Dominique van de Walle, January 2016 In Western economies, widows were historically among the poorest and most vulnerable individuals until the introduction of pension schemes and widow benefits in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One might expect a similar situation in developing countries with underdeveloped safety net and insurance mechanisms, as well as high levels of gender inequality in rights, human development, and access to assets and employment. Yet, despite the likely relevance of widowhood in the lives of African women, surprisingly little is known about the well-being of Africa’s widows.
Poverty is falling faster for female-headed households in Africa Dominique van de Walle, December 2015 Living standards have risen and poverty has fallen considerably across Sub-Saharan Africa since the late 1990s. But are all groups sharing in the gains? In particular, what about Africa’s many female-headed households, often thought to be poorer. Have they been left behind?
Saturday, December 12 was UHC Day. What have we learned in the last 12 months about Universal Health Coverage? Adam Wagstaff, December 2015 It turns out lots of interesting things happened on December 12. Beethoven had his first lesson in music composition with Franz Joseph Haydn (1792), Washington, D.C. became the capital of the US (1800), Guglielmo Marconi sent the first transatlantic radio signal (1901), Kenya declared independence from the UK (1963), The Beatles played their last UK concert (1965), and Ed Sheeran announced he was “taking a break” from social media (2015). Oh yes, and the UN endorsed a resolution calling for countries to “provide affordable, quality health care to every person, everywhere” (2012). Which makes December 12 UHC Day.
Poverty is falling faster among Africa’s female headed households Dominique van de Walle, October 2015 A sizeable number of households in Africa today have female heads. Based on the latest Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), 26% of all households Africa-wide are headed by women. Although there are cross-country differences, the shares both of the population living in female headed households (FHHs) and of households headed by women, have been rising over time. The data show quite clearly that the probability that a woman aged 15 or older heads a household, controlling for her age, has been increasing since the early 1990s in all regions and across the entire age distribution.
Poverty in a Rising Africa: Africa Poverty Report October 2015: According to latest World Bank estimates, the share of Africans who are poor fell from 56% in 1990 to 43% in 2012. The report argues that the poverty rate may have declined even more if the quality and comparability of the underlying data are taken into consideration. However, because of population growth many more people are poor, the report says. The most optimistic scenario shows about 330 million poor in 2012, up from about 280 million in 1990. Poverty reduction has been slowest in fragile countries, the report notes, and rural areas remain much poorer, although the urban-rural gap has narrowed.
Right to Work? Assessing India's Employment Guarantee Scheme in Bihar February 2014: India's 2005 National Rural Employment Guarantee Act creates a justiciable "right to work" by promising up to 100 days of wage employment per year to all rural households whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. Work is provided in public works projects at the stipulated minimum wage. The study finds that the scheme is falling well short of its potential impact on poverty in Bihar. Analysis of the study’s survey data points to a number of reasons. Workers are not getting all the work they want, and they are not getting the full wages due. And participation in the scheme is far from costless to them. Many report that they had to give up some other income-earning activity when they took up work. The unmet demand for work is the single most important policy-relevant factor in accounting for the gap between actual performance and the scheme’s potential impact on poverty.
Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa January 2014: The report examines obstacles faced by households and firms in meeting the youth employment challenge. It focuses primarily on productivity, in agriculture, in nonfarm household enterprises (HEs), and in the modern wage sector, because productivity is the key to higher earnings as well as to more stable, less vulnerable, livelihoods. To respond to the policy makers' dilemma, the report identifies specific areas where government intervention can reduce those obstacles to productivity for households and firms, leading to brighter employment prospects for youth, their parents, and their own children.
Risking Your Health: Causes, Consequences, and Interventions to Prevent Risky Behaviors November 2013: Individuals all over the worlds engage in behaviors that are risky for their health: smoking, drugs, alcohol, unhealthy food, and risky sexual encounters. They increasingly affect the health of individual and their populations. This report examines the causes, consequences and interventions to prevent these growing threats.
Measuring progress towards universal health coverage: With an application to 24 developing countries Adam Wagstaff, Daniel Cotlear, Patrick Hoang-Vu Eozenou, and Leander R. Buisman The last few years have seen a growing commitment worldwide to universal health coverage (UHC). Yet there is a lack of clarity on how to measure progress towards UHC. This paper proposes a ‘mashup’ index that captures both aspects of UHC: that everyone—irrespective of their ability-to-pay—gets the health services they need; and that nobody suffers undue financial hardship as a result of receiving care. Service coverage is broken down into prevention and treatment, and financial protection into impoverishment and catastrophic spending; nationally representative household survey data are used to adjust population averages to capture inequalities between the poor and better off; nonlinear tradeoffs are allowed between and within the two dimensions of the UHC index; and all indicators are expressed such that scores run from 0 to 100, and higher scores are better. Working Paper 7470, November 2015
On the delegation of aid implementation to multilateral agencies Kurt Annen and Stephen Knack The rapid growth of trust funds at multilateral development organizations has been widely neglected in the academic literature so far. Using a simple illustrative model, this paper examines the choice by sovereign donors among various trust fund options. The authors contend that the choice among the different trust funds involves a fundamental trade-off: larger funds provide donors with the benefit of burden sharing. Conversely, each donor can better assert its individual preferences in a fund with fewer other donors. The theoretical considerations yield testable implications on a range of factors affecting this fundamental tradeoff, most notably the area of intervention of the trust fund and competing domestic interests of donor countries. Using a sample of World Bank trust funds, the paper examines the participation decisions of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development/Development Assistance Committee donors over the past decade. Working Paper 7455, October 2015
Which donors, which funds? the choice of multilateral funds by bilateral donors at the World Bank Bernhard Reinsberg, Katharina Michaelowa, and Stephen Knack The rapid growth of trust funds at multilateral development organizations has been widely neglected in the academic literature so far. Using a simple illustrative model, this paper examines the choice by sovereign donors among various trust fund options. The authors contend that the choice among the different trust funds involves a fundamental trade-off: larger funds provide donors with the benefit of burden sharing. Conversely, each donor can better assert its individual preferences in a fund with fewer other donors. The theoretical considerations yield testable implications on a range of factors affecting this fundamental tradeoff, most notably the area of intervention of the trust fund and competing domestic interests of donor countries. Using a sample of World Bank trust funds, the paper examines the participation decisions of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development/Development Assistance Committee donors over the past decade. Working Paper 7441, October 2015
The impact of violence on individual risk preferences: evidence from a natural experiment Pamela Jakiela and Owen Ozier This paper estimates the impacts of secondary school on human capital, occupational choice, and fertility for young adults in Kenya. The probability of admission to government secondary school rises sharply at a score close to the national mean on a standardized 8th grade examination, permitting the estimation of causal effects of schooling in a regression discontinuity framework. The analysis combines administrative test score data with a recent survey of young adults to estimate these impacts. The results show that secondary schooling increases human capital, as measured by performance on cognitive tests included in the survey. Working Paper 7384, August 2015