Published on Let's Talk Development

Policy Research Working Paper (PRWP) series publication roundup from the weeks of October 19th and 26th

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This blog introduces a new bi-weekly entry that highlights recent working papers from around the World Bank Group that were published in the World Bank’s Policy Research Working Paper Series This first entry highlights 22 papers that were published in the Policy Research Working Paper (PRWP) series in the weeks of October 19th and 26th. Here are highlights of some of the findings.   

A number of papers focused on gender issues. A paper on big sisters sheds light on the role of older sisters in child rearing in developing countries. A collaborative study by the Development Research Group and IFC investigates the role of gender in agent banking in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A study on dowry in rural India estimates the impact of dowry on household savings and parental labor supply. Finally, a paper on gender gaps in property ownership investigates the extent of gender gaps and their factors, focusing on the role of legal systems 

  • Using rural Kenyan household data, the paper on big sisters shows that having an older sister rather than an older brother improves younger siblings' vocabulary and fine motor skills by more than 0.1 standard deviations.
  • The paper on the role of gender in agent banking reveals that clients prefer agents of their own gender in the DRC. Female clients show a robust preference for female agents. As such, the underrepresentation of female agents may contribute to the persistent gender gap in financial access and usage.
  • The paper on dowry in rural India shows that the prospect of higher dowry payments for a daughter's marriage leads parents to work and save more in advance. The higher savings are primarily financed through an increased paternal labor supply.  
  • Using data from 41 developing countries, the paper on gender gaps in property ownership the authors find that in almost all countries, men are more likely to own property than women because of discriminatory norms and laws on inheritance, property ownership, marital regimes, and protection from workplace discrimination. 

A number of papers addressed governance challenges. A paper on Moscow pothole management highlights the role of digital technologies in creating participatory governance mechanisms. Additionally, a paper on why firms pay bribes investigates corruption in tax administration and public procurement by analyzing firms’ bribery behavior.  

  • The paper on Moscow pothole management examines the linkage between citizens’ complaints on digital platforms regarding road quality in Moscow and the outcomes of Moscow’s mayoral elections. The findings suggest that greater use of digital technologies (measured by online pothole complaints) results in an increased number of votes and a higher margin of victory for the incumbent. 
  • Using firm-level data from 75 developing countries, the paper on why firms pay bribes shows that tax evasion tends to be a demand-side phenomenon. Firms acquiescing to a bribe request by public officials are associated with a 16% increase in sales not reported for tax purposes. In public procurement, corruption is a supply-side phenomenon. Firms supplying a bribe without a previous request by officials are associated with a 17% increase in the bribe paid to secure a government contract.

Two working papers focused on education-related interventions. One paper used a newly-developed metric of Learning-Adjusted Years of Schooling (LAYS) as a comparable measure of quality-adjusted learning outcomes in order to evaluate a large suite of education interventions. Additionally, the authors of “Promoting Parental Involvement in Schools” conduct low-cost parental involvement interventions in Mexico.  

  • Learning-Adjusted Years of Schooling (LAYS), which combines access and quality and compares gains with an absolute, is proposed as a new measure of educational interventions. The comparison of LAYS for 150 interventions across 46 countries shows that some of the most cost-effective programs deliver the equivalent of three additional years of high-quality schooling for just $100 per child. 
  • Promoting Parental Involvement in Schools”: the results of the interventions in Mexico show that simply providing information on how to support children’s learning changes parenting behavior at home, especially for indigenous families’ parents, and improves student behavior in school.  

 Other papers addressed a variety of topics:    

  • A study on fraud victimization in China shows that households facing credit constraints are associated with a higher probability (2.3 percentage points) of becoming fraud victims, and they have subsequent economic losses from fraud that are higher by 20.4 percent. 
  • The Europe and Central Asia Human Capital Index (ECA-HCI) is highlighted, which extended the Human Capital Index by adding a measure of quality-adjusted years of higher education as well as a proxy for latent health status to better capture regional challenges.  
  • A new database on interest rate controls is presented. Collected from 108 countries, the data represent 88 percent of the global gross domestic product. The data include types of controls, the legal basis, the intended objectives, methodologies, and enforcement rules. 

The PRWP series encourages the exchange of ideas on development and quickly disseminates the findings of the research that is in progress. 

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