RECENT FINDINGS FROM PEP RESEARCHERS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

As part of the PEP-UNDP Poverty and Social Impact Analysis (PSIA) initiative, this project sought to assess the effectiveness and progressivity of Uganda’s Universal Primary Education (UPE) program since it was first introduced in 1997, by examining factors driving primary school attendance, grade delay and drop out trends for children between the ages of 6 and 12 over the past two decades. The researchers' findings reveal that primary school attendance has been progressive over time and, in recent years, pro-poor, in the sense that the poorest people have been its major beneficiaries. However, both demand and supply-side factors affecting the provision and use of primary education still stand in the way of achieving optimal and equitable participation from UPE. The analysis also suggests that policies targeting the poor as well as the poorer parts of the country could yield considerable additional benefits, in terms of greater progressiveness and pro-poorness of the UPE policy. Find out more through the following PEP working paper:
***
In western China, and particularly in the poverty- and drought-stricken countryside of the region, women have been left as the main workforce, whilst the male labourers have flock to cities as a result of China's social transformation. A project called “Land of Love, Water Cellar for Mothers” was launched and implemented in order to address the comparatively serious water scarcity in these areas. In this study, a group of local PEP-supported researchers aim to assess the impacts of this water cellar project on the welfare of the affected populations. Two waves of a household survey: one prior to installation of one of a water storage facility, or “water cellar”, and a second wave after installation, to assess not only the effects on poverty, but also the transmission channels. The results show that these effects include not only the increase of household incomes, but also significant increases in women’s labour supply. Find out more through the following working paper:
***
Part of the PEP-UNDP "Poverty and Social Impact Analysis" (PSIA) initiative, this study set out to analyze the socioeconomic impact of increased trade liberalization between Armenia and the EU within the framework of Eastern Partnership initiative. In addition to a quantitative assessment of the potential impact of trade liberalization on the economic situation and poverty in Armenia, the study involves evaluations of existing foreign trade regimes and regulatory systems. Results of the analysis reveal that a simple free trade agreement or tariff liberalization will not result in significant socioeconomic benefits for Armenia. Although the researchers find that regional economic integration of Armenia with the EU is of great importance to long-term development of the country, they also find that it could only be economically justifiable (and generate a positive social impact) if the process that leads to such integration is based on development and harmonization of the capacities of domestic producers and enterprises. Therefore, the analysts conclude and recommend that immediate priority, in terms of policymaking, should move away from trade liberalization and towards industrial development. Find out more through the following PEP working paper:
***
In this PEP project, a team of researchers in Senegal set out to assess the impact of an experimental school canteen program on the performance of pupils in rural primary schools. 120 schools were selected in rural areas where the program had not yet been implemented. Half of these schools were assigned to receive the program (treatment group) and the other half, not (control group). This randomized controlled trial enabled the researchers to observe the actual effect of their feeding program on the students’ scores, on the schools’ rates of (grade) repetition and drop outs, as well as on other external, potentially unintended effects. The evidence produced by the team showed significant positive impact of the program on several aspects of schools’ and students’ performance, not to mention on the students’ nutrition. Find out more about the researchers' findings in the following PEP working paper (in French or English):
***
Part of the PEP-UNDP "Poverty and Social Impact Analysis" (PSIA) initiative, this study sought to assess the impact of microcredit on the empowerment of female household heads in Benin, using statistical (pro-score) matching techniques. The results show that access to microcredit does have a positive and significant impact on women's empowerment, in particular through the dimensions of "social responsiblities and living conditions" and "cultural rights and participation". Find out more about this project's outcomes and ensuing recommendations through the following PEP publication (working paper - in French : "Microcrédit, pauvreté et autonomisation des femmes au Bénin"):
***
Part of the PEP-UNDP "Poverty and Social Impact Analysis" (PSIA) initiative, the aim of this study was to analyze the impact of rising food prices (of 2008-2009) and related government policy responses on poverty, vulnerability, inequality and child welfare in Togo. Using a partial equilibrium model and panel data, the researchers found that, on the one hand, the rise in food prices has affected the wellbeing of children and had negative effects on "net consumers", whilst, on the other hand, it has contributed to improve the welfare of farmers who are "net producers". The results show that the policy reforms implemented by of the government, especially the subsidies for agricultural inputs, have had a positive impact on overall poverty reduction in Togo. However, the researchers also find that targeted social safety nets programs are more likely to have a greater impact on poverty and children’s well-being than the costly regressive oil subsidies implemented by the government. Find out more about this project's outcomes and ensuing recommendations through the following PEP publication (working paper - in French : "Analyse de l'impact de la hausse mondiale des prix et des politiques de réponse du gouvernement sur la pauvreté'):
***
To date, prices of gas and other energy used by households in Ukraine have been generously subsidized by the Government. However, suppressed energy prices lead to excessive use of gas and an inefficient level of investment into energy savings. In addition, Ukraine’s dependence on imported gas contributes to trade imbalances and growing pressure on the devaluation of the national currency. In 2010, the government announced an ambition reform agenda, including the raise of gas prices as a means to restore economic growth. Such policy, however, may have unprecedented impact on the welfare of the population. Part of the PEP-UNDP "Poverty and Social Impact Analysis" (PSIA) initiative, this particular project aimed at assessing the extent of such impact, as well as the effectiveness of current social welfare programs in mitigating the negative effects for the poorest households. Find out all about the researchers' methods, findings and policy recommendations through the following PEP publication (working paper):
***
It is estimated that, despite considerable investment in this priority sector, the public health infrastructure in India - including over 150 000 facilities - can serve no more than 20% of the Indian population.  There have been numerous attempts to understand and analyze the causes underlying the failures of the health policies - most of which focused the role of public and private institutions in the provision of health care. This particular PEP research project, however, aimed to identify the role that households play in determining their health status, as well as the macroeconomic effects this decision can generate. In terms of methodology, the researcher used a CGE modeling framework to simulate the effects of complete tariff liberalization in the presence / partial withdrawal / complete absence of health subsidy. The results show that 1) complete subsidization of health reduces overall disparity by favoring rural (vs urban) households and 2) withdrawal of health subsidy leads to domestic re-allocation of poverty pushing down the wage rates in agricultural sector (i.e. for rural households). Find out more about the researchers' findings through the PEP publication below:
Research team : Nitesh Sahay
***
Agricultural activities have been and remain key for sustained growth and pro-poor development in Ethiopia. However, the sector under utilizes its irrigation capacities as well as its abundant human resources. This particular PEP project aimed at measuring the impact of public investment in small-scale irrigation and training for farmers on growth and agriculture-led development, on food security, and on poverty in Ethiopia - in line with the current five year development strategy of the government. A team of local researchers used a dynamic PEP-standard type of CGE model to capture the outcomes of public investment shocks. The simulation results show that the Ethiopian government policy strategy regarding agriculture sector development has a great potential for reducing poverty and food insecurity, and that investing in training and irrigation contributes to the effort towards achieving the MDGs. Find out more about the researchers’ results and ensuing policy recommendations through their PEP paper:
***
While considerable progress has been made in terms of universal education in China over the past 20 years, a significant gap remains between rural and urban students in the rate of admission to senior high school in several parts of the country. In 2010, a team of Chinese researchers were granted PEP support to conduct a quasi-experimental evaluation in order to assess the impact of a Tuition Relief Program (TRP) - an initiative about to be implemented by the local government of Ningshan Country in Shaanxi province - on the performance of poor, rural students at junior high school level. In other words, the researchers sought to assess the effectiveness of such program in encouraging students with initially more limited prospects, to exert stronger efforts while preparing for senior high school. The results were quite positive and the researchers have been actively recommending the uptake of such investment strategy, by China’s Education policymakers, as a complementary measure to strengthen human capital in poor rural areas.  Find out more through the following PEP publications:
***
In this study, a team of local researchers in Pakistan used a combination of (CGE) modeling and microsimulation techniques to simulate the impacts of a 4% increase of the “public infrastructure investment (PII) to GDP” ratio – in line with the intent document in the Planning Commission’s Framework for Economic Growth – on several aspects of the national economy. The simulations were conducted using two different scenarios of financing mechanisms – one supposed that the increase in public spending would be financed with international loans, and the other with taxation (production tax) revenues. The analysis shows that, in the long run, regardless of the selected financing mechanism (tax or international loan). increased investments in public infrastructure lead to macroeconomic gains and improvements in poverty level. Find out more about the researchers' findings and ensuing policy recommendations through the following PEP publications:
***
Since 1988, rural-to-urban migration has become an important social and economic phenomenon in China. Along with the rapid economic growth and urbanization, an increasing share of the country’s rural population has joined this internal movement or exodus, seeking for better life prospects in China’s booming cities. Despite its importance, however, this particular group of population (rural-urban migrants) is almost invisible in most Chinese official statistics. With support from PEP, a team of Chinese researchers set out to identify and study the levels and changes in wage inequality among Chinese rural-urban migrants, from 2002 to 2007. They managed to build a unique dataset that allowed them to document and analyze changing in wage inequality among both migrants and urban natives in this specific period. Based on the outcomes on their analysis, the researchers conclude with the recommendation that the government should undertake fundamental reform of the Household Registration (Hukou) System and its internal migration policy. Find out more about the research findings and outcomes that have led to such conclusion through the following PEP publications:
***
One of the proposed policy options to address the issue of quality of education  (i.e. to improve school performance) in Kenya, has been the scaling up of a “contract teacher intervention”, previously introduced by an NGO in Western Kenya, where it had shown to have raised test scores for primary students. In 2008, a team of PEP-supported researchers in Kenya set out to realize a highly rigorous experimental evaluation to assess the potential success (or effectiveness) of scaling up such an intervention. While the authors have managed to demonstrate that extrapolating results from an NGO program to national government policy is not a valid option, the results show indeed that no matter how carefully and rigorously an intervention may be designed, the end results and effectiveness in reaching targets will just as largely depend on the nature of the program implementer, and the related institutional context or constraints. Find out more through the following publications
***
This study investigates the role of public infrastructure investment on economic growth and poverty reduction in the Philippines. Using dynamic CGE modeling and microsimulation techniques, the researchers find that the positive supply side effects of higher public investment expenditure manifest over time, through higher capital accumulation and improved productivity. Their findings reveal that higher public infrastructure investment not only positively impacts real GDP, but also reduces poverty and inequality in the short and long run. Based on the simulations' results, the researchers also conclude that international financing is a better alternative than tax financing when considered in terms of such investments' ability to improve the economy’s physical infrastructure, in order to create job opportunities, improve productivity and complement its social protection measures.
***
Cameroon

Efficience de production du secteur informel et réduction de la pauvreté au Cameroun

Productivity of the informal sector and poverty reduction in Cameroon (in French)

There is general concern that the recent improvements in Cameroon’s economy, in terms of GDP growth (i.e.at the macro level), have not translated into the improvement of the population’s welfare, i.e. at the micro level. Such stagnation would be the result of the low productivity of labour, and underemployment of the country’s active population. In this study, a team of PEP Cameroonian researchers aimed to establish how the productivity of the (non-agricultural) informal sector may affect or contribute to improve welfare in Cameroon, while identifying the main determining factors of the sector’s productivity. Find out more about the researchers' findings and related policy recommendations through the following PEP publications:
***

Partners

Copyright © 2011 PEP-net. All rights reserved