Deon Filmer's research while affiliated with World Bank and other places

Publications (113)

Article
Pay levels for public sector workers—and especially teachers—are a constant source of controversy. In many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, protests and strikes suggest that pay is low, while comparisons to average national income per capita suggest that it is high. This study presents data on teacher earnings from 15 African countries. The results...
Article
A randomized evaluation of two teacher incentive programs was conducted in a nationally representative sample of 420 public primary schools in Guinea. In 140 schools, high-performing teachers were rewarded in-kind, with the value of goods increasing with level of performance. In another 140 schools, high-performing teachers received a certificate a...
Chapter
The chapter discusses existing shortfalls and inequalities in the accumulation of human capital—knowledge, skills, and health. It analyzes their immediate and systemic causes and assess the scope for public intervention. The broad policy goals should be to improve: the quality, and not just the quantity, of education and health care; outcomes for d...
Article
Rising inequality and widespread poverty, social unrest and polarization, gender and ethnic disparities, declining social mobility, economic fragility, unbalanced growth due to technology and globalization, and existential danger from climate change are urgent global concerns of our day. These issues are intertwined. They therefore require a holist...
Article
Can cash aid harm non-recipients by raising local prices? We show that a householdtargeted cash transfer in the Philippines increases the prices of perishable foods in some markets and raises stunting among non-beneficiary children by 11 percentage points (34 percent). Impacts increase in the size of the village income shock and remoteness-- and ar...
Article
The standard summary metric of education-based human capital used in macro analyses is a quantity-based one: The average number of years of schooling in a population. But as recent research shows, students in different countries who have completed the same number of years of school often have vastly different learning outcomes. We therefore propose...
Article
Full-text available
Substantial work has demonstrated that early nutrition and home environments, including the degree to which children receive cognitive stimulation and emotional support from parents, play a profound role in influencing early childhood development. Yet, less work has documented the joint influences of parenting and nutritional status on child develo...
Preprint
Full-text available
This study analyzes the relative contributions of parenting and nutritional status to wealth gradients in early cognitive and socioemotional development in a low-income country. Wealth gradients in executive function, language, and early numeracy develop differently over time. Parenting and nutritional status account for a significant portion of...
Article
Full-text available
School enrollment has universally increased over the last 25 years in low-income countries. Enrolling in school, however, does not assure that children learn. A large share of children in low-income countries complete their primary education lacking even basic reading, writing, and arithmetic skills. Teacher quality is a key determinant of student...
Chapter
Conditional cash transfers (CCT) have been adopted in many countries over the last two decades. Although the impacts of these programs have been studied extensively, understanding of the economic mechanisms through which cash and conditions affect household decisions remains incomplete. In particular, relatively little is known about the effects of...
Article
Full-text available
Interventions targeting early childhood development hold promise for increasing human capital and reducing the intergenerational transmission of poverty. This paper presents results from a randomized evaluation of a preschool construction program in Cambodia, and suggests caution. The overall impact of the program on early childhood outcomes was sm...
Article
Background: Pantawid, a conditional cash transfer (CCT) program in the Philippines, provided grants conditioned on health-related behaviors for children aged 0-5 y and schooling for those aged 10-14 y. Objective: We investigated whether Pantawid improved anthropometric measurements in children aged 6-36 mo. Methods: We estimated cross-sectiona...
Article
Full-text available
Interventions targeting early childhood development, such as investment in preschools, are often seen as promising mechanisms to increase human capital and to reduce the intergenerational transmission of poverty and inequality. This paper presents results from a randomized evaluation of a large scale preschool construction program in Cambodia, and...
Article
Despite progress in recent decades, a substantial fraction of children in developing countries attain little schooling, and many adults lack skills that are valued in the labor market. We evaluate the medium-term effects of a program that provided scholarships for three years to poor children upon graduation from elementary school in Cambodia, a lo...
Article
Full-text available
Scaling up Early Child Development services has the potential to increase child cognitive and socio-emotional development and promote school readiness. This study evaluates three alternative scaled-up approaches to increasing the access to ECD: formal preschools, community preschools, and home-based services. The results highlight the importance of...
Article
We analyze socioeconomic differences in adult mortality in four African countries-the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone-using the adult mortality module in the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), calculating mortality based on the sibling mortality reports collected from female respondents aged 15-49. We discuss the...
Article
The use of asset indices in welfare analysis and poverty targeting is increasing, especially in cases in which data on expenditures are unavailable or hard to collect. We compare alternative approaches to welfare measurement. Our analysis shows that inferences about inequalities in education, health care use, fertility, and child mortality, as well...
Article
There is considerable evidence that conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs can have large impacts on school enrollment, including in very poor countries. However, little is known about what features of program design account for the observed outcomes. In this paper we analyze the impact of a program in Cambodia that made payments of varying magni...
Article
The authors combine data from 84 Demographic and Health Surveys from 46 countries to analyze trends and socioeconomic differences in adult mortality, calculating mortality based on the sibling mortality reports collected from female respondents aged 15-49. The analysis yields four main findings. First, adult mortality is different from child mortal...
Chapter
Full-text available
Suggests the reasons for teacher accountability reforms and reviews the approaches available, successes, and examples of evaluating incentives to discover design flaws. One type of policy for reform is contract tenure reforms, which does not hire a person into the civil service or grant tenure; normally lasts for one year; occurs in most developing...
Chapter
The relative lack of attention to early childhood development in many developing countries remains a puzzle, and an opportunity. There is increasing evidence that investments in the nutritional, cognitive, and socio-emotional development of young children have high payoffs. Researchers and development practitioners are building on this evidence to...
Article
Full-text available
Does the sex composition of existing children in a family affect fertility behavior? An unusually large data set, covering 64 countries and some 5 million births, is used to show that fertility behavior responds to the presence--or absence--of sons in many regions of the developing world. The response to the absence of sons is particularly large in...
Article
Full-text available
There is a strong association between schooling attained and test scores in many settings. If this association is causal, one might expect that programs that increase school enrollment and attainment would also improve test scores. However, if there is self-selection into school based on expected gains, marginal children brought into school by such...
Article
Increasing adult mortality due to HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa raises considerable concern about the welfare of surviving children. Studies have found substantial variability across countries in the negative impacts of orphanhood on child health and education. One hypothesis for this variability is the resilience of the extended family network in...
Article
Full-text available
Conditional cash transfers have been adopted by a large number of countries in the past decade. Although the impacts of these programs have been studied extensively, understanding of the economic mechanisms through which cash and conditions affect household decisions remains incomplete. This paper uses evidence from a program in Cambodia, where eli...
Article
Full-text available
There is increasing evidence that conditional cash transfer programs can have large impacts on school enrollment, including in very poor countries. However, little is known about which features of program design -- including the amount of the cash that is transferred, how frequently conditions are monitored, whether non-complying households are pen...
Article
Full-text available
A family preference for sons over daughters may manifest itself in different ways, including higher mortality, worse health status, or lower educational attainment among girls. This study focuses on one measure of son preference in the developing world, namely the likelihood of continued childbearing given the gender composition of existing childre...
Article
Increasing the schooling attainment of girls is a challenge in much of the developing world. In this study we evaluate the impact of a program that gives scholarships to girls making the transition between the last year of primary school and the first year of secondary school in Cambodia. We show that the scholarship program increased the enrollmen...
Article
Analysis of 14 household surveys from 13 developing countries suggests that 1–2 percent of the population have disabilities. Adults with disabilities typically live in poorer than average households: disability is associated with about a 10 percentage point increase in the probability of falling in the two poorest quintiles. Much of the association...
Article
Full-text available
Student learning can be raised by school autonomy and parental participation through separate channels, but this paper suggests a mutually supportive effect. Increased school autonomy increases the rent that can be distributed among stakeholders at the school, while institutions for parental participation (such as a school board) empower parents to...
Article
Increasing the supply of schools is commonly advocated as a policy to promote schooling outputs and outcomes. Analysis of the relationship between the school enrolment of 6- to 14-year-olds and the distance to primary and secondary schools in 21 rural areas of low-income countries (including some of the poorest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa) sugg...
Article
The Millennium Development Goal for primary schooling completion has focused attention on a measurable output indicator to monitor increases in schooling in poor countries. We argue the next step, which moves towards the even more important Millennium Learning Goal, is to monitor outcomes of learning achievement. We demonstrate that even in countri...
Article
The relationship between orphan status, household economic status, and child school enrollment across low-income countries varies substantially. Orphans sometimes have lower enrollment than non-orphans, but in many countries, the difference is small and not statistically significantly different from zero. The orphan enrollment gap is typically dwar...
Article
This paper analyzes the relationship between whether a young person has a disability, the poverty status of their household, and their school participation using 11 household surveys from nine developing countries. Between 1 and 2 percent of the population is identified as having a disability. Youth with disabilities sometimes live in poorer househ...
Article
Incl. bibl., abstract This paper uses internationally comparable household data sets (Demographic and Health Surveys) to investigate how gender and wealth interact to generate within-country inequalities in educational enrollment and attainment. The paper highlights that girls are at a great educational disadvantage in particular regions: South Asi...
Article
This paper uses individual and household level data to explore empirically the associations between household wealth and the incidence and treatment of fever, as an indicator of malaria, among children in sub-Saharan Africa. The data used are from Demographic and Health Surveys collected in the 1990s from 22 countries where malaria is prevalent. Th...
Article
Increasing the supply of schools is commonly advocated as a policy intervention to promote schooling. Analysis of the relationship between the school enrollment of 6 to 14 year olds and the distance to primary and secondary schools in 21 rural areas in low-income countries (including some of the poorest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa) reveals that...
Article
Full-text available
We report on a study in which unannounced visits were made to health clinics in Bangladesh with the intention of discovering what fraction of medical professionals were present at their assigned post. This survey represents the first attempt to quantify the extent of this problem on a nationally representative scale.
Article
Full-text available
Performance contracts (PCs)---contracts signed between the government and state enterprise managers---have been used widely in developing countries. China's experience with such contracts was one of the largest experiments with contracting in the public sector, affecting hundreds of thousands of state firms, and offered a rare opportunity to explor...
Article
This article presents an approach to public policy in health that comes directly from the literature on public economics. It identifies two characteristic market failures in health. The first is the existence of large externalities in the control of many infectious diseases that are mostly addressed by standard public health interventions. The seco...
Article
Full-text available
Large international organizations such as the World Bank pursue multiple objectives in hiring policies, including cultural diversity, reducing costs and avoiding discrimination. There can be sharp trade-offs between these objectives. Diversity is enhanced by recruiting from an international labor market. But international organizations face unusual...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose International organizations pursue multiple objectives in hiring policies including cultural diversity, reducing costs and avoiding discrimination among which there can be sharp trade‐offs. The paper has the purpose of studying how these trade‐offs are resolved in the World Bank's hiring processes. Design/methodology/approach The paper est...
Article
This article focuses on the evidence showing two weak links in the chain between government spending for services to improve health and actual improvements in health status. First, institutional capacity is a vital ingredient in providing effective services. When this capacity is inadequate, health spending, even on the right services, may lead to...
Article
In an earlier article, the authors outline some reasons for the disappointingly small effects of primary health care programs and identified two weak links standing between spending and increased health care. The first was the inability to translate public expenditure on health care into real services due to inherent difficulties of monitoring and...
Article
Poverty maps, spatial descriptions of the distribution of poverty in any given country, are most useful to policy-makers and researchers when they are finely disaggregated, i.e. when they represent small geographic units, such as cities, towns, or villages. Unfortunately, almost all household surveys are too small to be representative at such level...
Article
Full-text available
According to a theoretical model, student learning can be raised by school autonomy and parental participation through separate channels. Increased school autonomy increases the rent that can be distributed among stakeholders at the school, while institutions for parental participation (such as a school board) empowers parents to command a higher s...
Article
Full-text available
According to a theoretical model, student learning can be raised by school autonomy and parental participation through separate channels. Increased school autonomy increases the rent that can be distributed among stakeholders at the school, while institutions for parental participation (such as a school board) empowers parents to command a higher s...
Article
If children contribute to the household by using their time to collect natural resources from common property sources such as collecting firewood, fetching water, collecting fodder, grazing animals then local depletion of these resources could potentially increase the demand for children. This feedback could create a dynamically unstable vicious ci...
Article
In an earlier article, the authors outline some reasons for the disappointingly small effects of primary health care programs and identified two weak links standing between spending and increased health care. The first was the inability to translate public expenditure on health care into real services due to inherent difficulties of monitoring and...
Article
This paper conducts an econometric analysis of data for a sample of over 4000 children in India, between the ages of 1 and 2 years, with a view to studying two aspects of the neglect of children: their likelihood of being immunised against disease and their likelihood of receiving a nutritious diet. The starting hypothesis, consistent with an unive...
Article
Using data from India, we estimate the relationship between household wealth and children's school enrollment. We proxy wealth by constructing a linear index from asset ownership indicators, using principal-components analysis to derive weights. In Indian data this index is robust to the assets included, and produces internally coherent results. St...
Article
Full-text available
Government officials and policy analysts maintain that Indonesia's civil servants are poorly paid, and have been for decades, a conclusion that is supported by anecdotal evidence and casual empiricism. In this paper, the relationship between government and private compensation levels is systematically analysed using evidence from two large househol...
Article
Albania provides a small amount of social assistance to nearly 20 percent of its popu-lation through a system that allows some community discretion in determining distri-bution. This study investigates how well this social assistance program is targeted to the poor. Relative to other safety net programs in low-income countries, social assis-tance i...
Article
Recent empirical and theoretical literature sheds light on the disappointing experience with implementation of primary health care programs in developing countries. This article focuses on the evidence showing two weak links in the chain between government spending for services to improve health and actual improvements in health status. First, inst...
Article
Using internationally comparable household data sets (Demographic and Health Surveys), the author investigates how gender and wealth interact to generate within country inequalities in educational enrollment and attainment. He carries out multivariate analysis to assess the partial relationship between educational outcomes and gender, wealth, house...
Article
We use cross-national data to examine the impact of both public spending on health and non-health factors (economic, educational, cultural) in determining child (under-5) and infant mortality. There are two striking findings. First, the impact of public spending on health is quite small, with a coefficient that is typically both numerically small a...
Article
July 1997The misallocation of public sector educational spending across inputs that leads to underspending on productive inputs like books, instructional materials, and facilities is due to political forces- thus requires political solutions.The accumulated results of empirical studies show that the public sector typically chooses spending on input...
Article
This paper constructs a model of saving for retired single people that includes heterogeneity in medical expenses and life expectancies, and bequest motives. We estimate the model using Assets and Health Dynamics of the Oldest Old data and the method of simulated moments. Out-of-pocket medical expenses rise quickly with age and permanent income. Th...