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Policy Research Working Paper series publication roundup for June 16-June 30, 2022

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 Photo: © Stephan Gladieu / World Bank Photo: © Stephan Gladieu / World Bank

This blog is a biweekly feature highlighting recent working papers from around the World Bank Group that were published in the World Bank’s Policy Research Working Paper Series. This entry introduces five papers published from June 16 to June 30, 2022, on various topics, including agriculture, migration and intimate partner violence.  

The first two papers that we introduce deal with issues related to agriculture. In Estimating Local Agricultural GDP across the World, Brian Blankespoor and coauthors disaggregate national and subnational administrative statistics of Agricultural GDP into a global gridded dataset. In Is Dirt Cheap? The Economic Costs of Failing to Meet Soil Health Requirements on Smallholder FarmsSydney Gourlay and Talip Kilic examine soil suitability for maize production and create multidimensional soil suitability profiles of smallholder maize plots in Uganda.   

  • Estimating Local Agricultural GDP across the World uses a data fusion method, based on cross-entropy optimization, to disaggregate national and subnational administrative statistics of Agricultural GDP into a global gridded dataset at approximately 10 x 10 kilometers using satellite-derived indicators of the components that make up agricultural GDP, namely crop, livestock, fishery, hunting and timber production. The paper compares the exposure of areas with at least one extreme drought from2000 to 2009 to agricultural GDP, where nearly 1.2 billion people live. Findings show an estimated US$432 billion of agricultural GDP in2010. 

  • Is Dirt Cheap? The Economic Costs of Failing to Meet Soil Health Requirements on Smallholder Farms leverages unique household survey data collected in Uganda—inclusive of plot-level, objective measures of maize yields and soil attributes—to fill knowledge gaps regarding the linkages between soil fertility and smallholder agricultural productivity – both on the whole and within different farmer subpopulations that are defined by socioeconomic characteristics. The paper finds only 13 percent of farmers are cultivating soil that is highly suitable for maize production, while the vast majority are cultivating only moderately suitable plots. Farmers cultivating highly suitable soil have the potential to increase their observed yields by as much as 86 percent, while those at the opposite end of the suitability distribution (with marginally suitable land) operate closer to the production frontier and can only increase yields by up to 59 percent, given the current technology set.  

The next two papers we introduce delve on topics related to migration and refugees. In Why Student Aid Matters? Roadblocks to the Transition into Higher Education for Forced Migrants in Chile, Christian Blanco and coauthors explore educational gaps between migrants and nationals in Chile. In What it Takes to Return: UN Peacekeeping and the Safe Return of Displaced People, Vincenzo Bove and coauthors investigate whether the deployment of UN peacekeeping operations can reduce the insecurities driving displacement and delaying return.  

  • Why Student Aid Matters? Roadblocks to the Transition into Higher Education for Forced Migrants in Chile analyzes an administrative data set of all students in the Chilean educational system from 2017 to 2018. Using a research discontinuity design around the cut-off for financial aid to tertiary education, the paper investigated whether access to financial aid generates incentives for forced migrants to enroll in tertiary education. The research confirms previous findings that show that migrants have lower advancement and enrollment rates than Chilean nationals at every school level. Moreover, it finds that financial aid applications constitute a major roadblock preventing migrant students from accessing higher education. Figure 1 presents shows the results, with the financial aid cut-off centered at zero and the enrollment in higher education. The lines show the average probability of enrollment in higher education based on scores on the college selection test. Although financial aid seems to have a greater impact on migrant students than native-born students, the confidence intervals overlap. 

Figure 1: Regression Discontinuity Design 

Average learning losses

  • What it Takes to Return: UN Peacekeeping and the Safe Return of Displaced People explores whether the deployment of UN peacekeeping operations—by reducing insecurity and mitigating the very violence that drives displacement and delays return in the first place—can enable the safe return of refugees and the resettlement of internally displaced people (IDPs). It explores the case of South Sudan, which hosts the second largest UN peace operation in the world. The paper finds that UN peacekeeping affects both the magnitude and the quality of return. Displaced people are more likely to return home if peacekeepers are deployed in their county of destination. At the same time, the local presence of peacekeepers mitigates host communities’ negative perception of IDPs.  They also enable the delivery of support to communities that seem to improve attitudes toward returnees and IDPs. Figure 2 shows a map of South Sudan in 2013 and 2017, where for each county the authors show whether UN peacekeepers were deployed (black dots) and the number of returnees, using data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Although The figure helps to illustrate the spatial distribution of returnee populations in relation to UN peacekeeping deployment, the visual inspection does not reveal a clear pattern. The maps also illustrate that United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) deployment did not significantly change over time, and was scattered throughout South Sudan’s territory 

Figure 2: Returns and PKO presence in 2013 and 2017 based on IOM data

Figure 2: Rising input costs and foreign exchange shortages are a strain for businesses

Finally, this roundup’s last paper takes us to India. In Women’s Political Representation and Intimate Partner Violence, S Anukriti and coauthors examine the correlation between  female leaders being elected to state legislatures in India and the increased risk of domestic violence experienced by women in their electoral districts. The paper finds that exposure to female leaders increases female constituents’ reported experience of physical spousal abuse. The estimates imply that a one standard deviation (s.d.) increase in the fraction of seats held by women in a district leads to a 0.07 s.d. increase in reported physical spousal violence experienced by rural women, with no evidence of a significant impact in urban areas. No evidence of significant changes in attitudes toward violence, women’s labor market outcomes, or partner characteristics due to exposure to female leaders is found, ruling out these changes as potential reasons underlying the intimate partner violence (IPV) results. Instead, the authors show that a possible reason underlying the increase in IPV against women is an increase in women’s modern contraceptive use—potentially driven by an increase in the local availability of family planning and reproductive health services due to the presence of female leaders.  Increased use of family planning can increase marital conflict, especially when the husband’s son preference is stronger than his wife’s. 

The following are other interesting papers published in the second half of June. Please make sure to read them as well. 

  1. Labor Market Rigidity at Home and Multinational Corporations’ Flexible Task Reallocation Abroad (Ahn,Jaebin,Choi,Jaerim,Chung,Sunghoon) 

  1. Informal Microenterprises in Senegal: Performance Outcomes and Possible Avenues to Boost Productivity and Jobs (Atiyas,İzak,Dutz,Mark Andrew) 

  1. Trade Fraud and Non-Tariff Measures (Kee,Hiau Looi,Nicita,Alessandro) 

  1. Fiscal Policies for a Sustainable Recovery and a Green Transformation (Catalano,Michele,Forni,Lorenzo) 

  1. The Distributional Impact of Serbia’s Taxes and Social Spending (English) (Nguyen,Trang Van,Žarković,Jelena,Vladisavljević,Marko,Ranđelović,Saša) 

  1. Bring a Friend: Strengthening Women’s Social Networks and Reproductive Autonomy in India (Lnu,Anukriti,Herrera-Almanza,Catalina,Karra,Mahesh Venkat) 

  1. Indirect Effects of COVID-19 Nonpharmaceutical Interventions on Vaccine Acceptance (Bussolo,Maurizio,Sarma,Nayantara,Torre,Ivan) 

  1. Consumption Cities versus Production Cities: New Considerations and Evidence (Jedwab,Remi Camille,Ianchovichina,Elena,Haslop,Federico 

  1. Adaptive Experiments for Policy Choice: Phone Calls for Home Reading in Kenya (Esposito Acosta,Bruno Nicola,Sautmann,Anja) 

  1. Distributional Policies and Social Cohesion in a High-Unemployment Setting (Agüero,Jorge M.,Fasola,Eniola) 

  1. Social Exclusion: Concepts, Measurement, and a Global Estimate (Cuesta Leiva,Jose Antonio,López-Nova,Borja,Niño-Zarazúa,Miguel) 

  1. Refugee Return and Social Cohesion (Ruiz,Isabel,Vargas Silva,Carlos Ivan) 

  1. Building Stability Between Host and Refugee Communities: Evidence from a TVET Program in Jordan and Lebanon (Ferguson,Neil T. N.,Wolfe,Rebecca J.,Amine,Laila,Ramadi,Eric,Shahin,Lina) 

  1. Hosting New Neighbors: Perspectives of Host Communities on Social Cohesion in Eastern DRC (Pham,Phuong,O’Mealia,Thomas,Wei,Carol,Bindu,Kennedy Kihangi,Makoond,Anupah,Vinck,Patrick Thierry) 

  1. India's Services Sector Growth: The Impact of Services Trade on Non-tradable Services (Avdiu,Besart,Bagavathinathan,Karan Singh,Chaurey,Ritam,Nayyar,Gaurav) 

  1. Green Innovation and Economic Growth in a North-South Model (Witajewski-Baltvilks,Jan Ignacy,Fischer,Carolyn) 

  1. How Can Vulnerable Internally Displaced Persons Be Transitioned from Humanitarian Assistance to Social Protection? Evidence from Iraq (Obi,Chinedu Temple,Phadera,Lokendra,Wai-Poi,Matthew Grant,Leape,Virginia,Fox,Gabrielle) 

  1. Bridging the Targeting Gap: Assessing Humanitarian Beneficiaries’ Likely Eligibility for Social Protection in Iraq (Phadera,Lokendra,Sharma,Dhiraj,Wai-Poi,Matthew Grant,Douglas,Lotti,Jovanovic,Vladimir,Westerman,Oliver,Khan,Safwan Aziz) 

  1. Non-Labor Input Quality and Small Farms in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Review (Michelson,Hope Carolyn,Gourlay,Sydney,Wollburg,Philip Randolph) 

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