Is Urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa Different?

Continuing the focus here on urbanization started earlier in the year, a new paper from the World Bank series makes the argument that Sub-Saharan Africa is special. From the abstract:

“In the past dozen years, a literature has developed arguing that urbanization has unfolded differently in post-independence Sub-Saharan Africa than in the rest of the developing world, with implications for African economic growth overall.”

The paper is available through the World Bank.

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Housing and Urbanization

Continuing the focus on urbanization, one key barrier is the provision of sufficient market housing. In a new paper, Paul Collier and Anthony Venables at Oxford argue that significant policy reform in the housing sector, and policy coordination across levels of government, is necessary to make urbanization feasible and desirable.

Link to paper (ungated).

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Urbanization and Informalization

The management of urbanization may be the core challenge in development, both in Africa and elsewhere. Ejaz Ghani at the World Bank and Ravi Kanbur at Cornell have a new paper out on the issue.

Abstract – or at least the first and last sentences.
Two of the great stylized predictions of development theory, and two of the great expectations of policy makers as indicators of progress in development, are inexorable urbanization and inexorable formalization. …. At the current conjuncture, agglomeration benefits make a strong case for urbanization as an integral part of development strategy, but concerns about jobless growth and about urban poverty require a focus on the informal sector.

Full paper available through SSRN.

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What is Governance

A new paper from Francis Fukuyama on assessing the quality of governance. We will be discussing some of this in each of my classes.

Paper available through SSRN

h/t to Chris Blattman

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The Kuznets Curve and the Fairness of the MDG’s

A new paper by Allwine, Rigolini and Lopez-Calva in the World Bank Working Paper series focuses on the unfairness of the poverty targets in the Millenium Development Goals.

The basic argument is that as countries grow, poverty rates fall faster in richer countries than in poorer ones. Once you take this into account, the poverty reductions that have happened in the poorest countries look far more effective than they do otherwise. For students in EC307, we will discuss this in two weeks when we discuss income inequality.

The results are interesting, but only important if progress toward the MDG’s are seen as a measure of governance rather than a measure of progress.

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Intrinsic Motivation and Health Care

When do extrinsic and intrinsic motivation conflict? Health care seems like a natural spot to look for – though it may be reasonable to think about this as image motivation having a larger effect than extrinsic motivation.

“Information and Quality When Motivation is Intrinsic: Evidence from Surgeon Report Cards”, by Jonathan Kolstad

“If profit maximization is the objective of a firm, new information about quality should affect firm behavior only through its effects on market demand. I consider an alternate model in which suppliers are motivated by a desire to perform well in addition to profit. The introduction of quality “report cards” for cardiac surgery in Pennsylvania provides an empirical setting to isolate the relative role of extrinsic and intrinsic incentives in determining surgeon response. Information on performance that was new to surgeons and unrelated to patient demand led to an intrinsic response four times larger than surgeon response to profit incentives.”

Paper available from the NBER (gated).

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Taxation and Development

A new paper by Besley and Persson illuminating the relationship between development and patterns of taxation.

A quick summary from the conclusion of the paper:

“As a state moves from collecting a low level of public revenue of around 10%
of national income towards collecting around 40%, tax bases typically shift
from trade taxes and excises towards labor income and other broad bases
such as value added. To study this process is a challenge of appreciating
incentives and constraints.”

Paper available (ungated) through the LSE

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Assessing Trustworthiness

Why are some people more trusting than others? From a new CEPR paper by Jeff Butler, Paola Giuliano and Luigi Guiso:

“we show that individuals extrapolate from their own type when forming trust beliefs about the same pool of potential partners”
Link to Abstract at CEPR

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Determinants of Democracy

From Nathan Nunn and Paola Giuliano

We provide evidence that a history of democracy at the local level is associated with contemporary democracy at the national level. Auxiliary estimates show that a tradition of local democracy is also associated with attitudes that favor democracy, with better quality institutions, and higher level of economic development.

Paper available from IZA

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Technological Diffusion

In Economic Growth, we are focusing on technology, efficiency and productivity tomorrow. Here is a current related paper from the Centre for Economic Policy Research.

From the Abstract
“We find significant evidence that technology diffuses slower to locations that are farther away from adoption leaders. This effect is stronger across rich countries and also when measuring distance along the south-north dimension.”

Link to CEPR abstract.

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