Weekly links July 14: climate change and development, China’s industrial policy, Romanian tax incentives, women’s work affecting home bargaining power, and more…


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·       VoxEU podcast has Tim Philipps interview Esther Duflo (transcript) – her thoughts on how moving away from the Washington Consensus and towards the MDGs shifted the focus of policymakers towards the welfare of people, the difficulty of changing people’s minds through evidence “Yes, and when you tell them the results, they're like oh, it's not that they don't necessarily believe you but they kind of weighed against the strengths of their prior and usually a prior is so strong that you don't it's hard to make a dent. But these are things that eventually change.”, and how the work she is doing talking about climate change is different from previous work “Whereas now I think we are a pretty unprecedented situation where the problems are caused in rich countries and they affect first order, mostly poor countries. So there is nothing I can tell to the poor countries to help them do what they want to do better. I need to start talking to the rich countries citizens and their leaders, obviously, and they're just even getting people to understand that it's not charity, it's basic justice. It's a much different message than to say you've already met your democratic decision, now this is how you can do it just a bit better. There I'm kind of giving what I've been calling and other setting plumbing advice, but here I'm trying to tell people this is the social preference you should have. And I don't know if I would be able to do that.”

·       The Econ that Matters blog interviews Francis Annan who talks about some of his work and ideas on frictions and service quality issues around mobile money, one of the big issues with government procurement being how slow governments are in making payments and the problems this causes (see this old post about the same issue), and his advice for PhD students doing fieldwork on how to get more out of the baseline (see also our posts on this here and here).

·       Tim Taylor summarizes a Trade talks podcast interview with Lee Branstetter on China’s industrial policy and whether it has worked as well as advertised: “It turns out that subsidies were mainly going to lower-productivity firms, and didn’t seem to help their productivity. Instead, firms were being chosen for subsidies because they were large”… When we try to evaluate the net benefits, if any, of Made in China 2025, it’s hard, at least on the basis of our analysis, to come to a very positive conclusion. Resources have been expended, but the desired innovative outcomes have not yet emerged”

·       Another Trade Talks podcast has Isabela Manelici discussing how a tax break given to software programmers in Romania helped transform the countries IT sector: the government lowered the tax rate for IT programmers from a progressive rate that went up to 40% down to an exemption that has them paying 0% taxes – this boosted the IT industry relative to both other industries in Romania and to the IT industry in neighboring countries, and seems to have had positive spillover benefits on other Romanian industries that rely on IT services as inputs.

·       The World Bank’s Open Learning Campus has a self-paced course on evaluating impact in low- and middle-income countries on the edX platform, created by the World Bank’s SIEF program and Georgetown. Free to audit, or only $5 to take graded assignments and exams.

·       On VoxDev, Hannah Uckat summarizes her work on how promoting women at work increases female bargaining power in the household for both these workers and for women who work under them.

·       World Bank Young Professionals Program (YPP): A reminder to those going on the market that this has a much earlier deadline than most academic jobs, and than the Development Research Group’s recruiting. Applications close July 31 for the coming year cycle (they re-open August 15-September 30 for IFC profiles only).


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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David Myth
September 18, 2023

Very interesting view of the Chinese industrial policy.