Rent imputation for welfare measurement: A review of methodologies and empirical findings. Review of Income and Wealth, Vol. 63, No. 4, 881-89.2017.
with Sergio Olivieri, Lidia Ceriani and Marco Ranzani.
Housing should always be included in the construction of the welfare aggregate for welfare analysis. However, assigning a value to the flow of services from dwellings is problematic. Many households own the dwelling in which they live, making this value unobserved; others receive free housing or face prices lower than those at the market. Over the last decades, several estimation techniques have been proposed and implemented by practitioners to overcome this issue. This paper provides a review of methods commonly used to impute rent and discusses the relative advantages and disadvantages of each. We find no consensus on which imputation method is the most appropriate for welfare analysis, as well as a lack of evidence regarding the distributional impact of including rents in the welfare aggregate, particularly in developing countries. Moreover, practices for imputing rents vary across countries, calling for the future development of a unified framework.
Broken gears: the value added of higher education on teachers’ academic achievement. Higher Education, Vol. 72, No. 3, pp. 341-361. 2016.
with Hugo Ñopo.
Good teachers are essential for high-quality educational systems. However, little is known about teachers’ skill formation during college. By combining two standardized tests for Colombian students, one taken at the end of senior year in high school and the other when students are near graduation from college, we test the extent to which students majoring in education relatively improve or deteriorate their skills in quantitative reasoning, native language and foreign language, in comparison with students in other programs. We find that teachers’ skills vis-à-vis those in other majors deteriorate in quantitative reasoning and foreign language, although these skills deteriorate less for those in math-oriented and foreign language-oriented programs, respectively. For native language, we do not find evidence of robust differences in relative learning mobility.
Lower Bounds on Inequality of Opportunity and Measurement Error. Economics Letters, Vol. 137, pp. 102-105. 2015.
I show that lower bound estimates of inequality of opportunity can have substantial measurement error, and that measurement error can vary considerably across samples. As a consequence, the traditional cross-country comparisons researchers make can be misleading.
Why did poverty decline in India? A nonparametric decomposition exercise. In India’s Social and Economic Transformation in 21st Century, Pallavi Choudhuri, Sonalde Desai, and Amaresh Dubey, Eds. Routledge. 2023.
with Sonalde Desai, Rinku Murgai and Ambar Narayan
We use panel data to analyse factors that contributed to the rapid decline in poverty in India between 2005 and 2012, employing a non-parametric decomposition method that measures the relative contributions of different components of household livelihoods to observed changes in poverty. Our results show that poverty decline is associated with a significant increase in labour earnings, explained in turn by a steep rise in wages for unskilled labour, and diversification from farm to non-farm sources of income in rural areas. Transfers, in the form of remittances and social programmes, have contributed but are not the primary drivers of poverty decline over this period. The pattern of changes is consistent with processes associated with structural transformation, which add up to a highly pro-poor pattern of income growth over the initial distribution of income and consumption. However, certain social groups (Adivasis and Dalits) are found to be more likely to stay in or fall into poverty and less likely to move out of poverty. And even as poverty has reduced dramatically, the share of vulnerable population has not.
Policy research working papers
The impact of colonial legacies on inequality of opportunity in education: The case of Peru’s Mita. Mimeo, Poverty and Equity Global Practice, The World Bank. 2019. Discussion working paper in the context of the World Development Report on learning.
I study the impact of the colonial legacies of the mita on inequality opportunity in educational achievement. To do this I use data from Peru's "Evaluacion Censal de Estudiantes" (2007-2012), which evaluates the math and communication skills for all children in the second grade of primary in Peru. I define inequality of opportunity in education as the difference in the ability of displaying the expected cognitive skills for age. My results show evidence of an effect of mita on academic performance in communication, and no effect in math. I investigate differences in school characteristics between mita and non-mita districts as potential mechanisms, and find a negative effect on the likelihood of having access to sanitation. I observe that the lack of sanitation is related to lower public spending in health and sanitation in mita areas vis-a-vis non-mita ones. These findings are tied to the known effects of mita on stunting, and in turn to a negative effect on educational attainment.
Welfare dynamics in Colombia: results from synthetic panels. Policy Research Working Paper Series 8441, The World Bank. 2018. Background working paper for Colombia’s Poverty Assessment.
with Hai-Anh Dang, Eduardo Malasquez, Sergio Olivieri and Julieth Pico.
This study explores the short-run transitions between poverty, vulnerability, and middle class, using synthetic panels constructed from multiple rounds of Colombia’s Integrated Household Survey (in Spanish Gran Encuesta Integrada de Hogares). The paper reports results from two approaches to define a vulnerability line: the first one employs a nonparametric and parsimonious model, while the second utilizes a fully parametric regression model with covariates. The estimation results suggest a range of between \$8 to \$13 per day per person in 2005 purchasing power parity dollars as the vulnerability line. Using an average daily vulnerability line of $10 per day per person, subsequent estimates on welfare dynamics suggest that, during the past decade, 20 percent of the Colombian population experienced downward mobility, and 24 percent experienced upward mobility. Furthermore, upward mobility increases with higher education levels and is lower for female-headed households.
Heterogeneity and Household Life Cycle in the Multidimensional Poverty Index. Knowledge Brief, Poverty and Equity Global Practice, The World Bank. 2018. Knowledge brief for Colombia’s Poverty Assessment.
with Eduardo Malasquez, Sergio Olivieri and Julieth Pico.
This note discusses the evolution of the MPI in Colombia since 2010 and describes some of the challenges associated with the spatial heterogeneity of multidimensional poverty across urban and rural areas, and the relationship between life cycle and the evolution of the MPI over time. Also, this note opens a discussion that has not been yet addressed by the literature on how to update the indicators in the MPI once these are no longer capturing significant deprivations.
Measuring Housing Deprivation: Methodology and an Application to Afghanistan. Mimeo, Poverty and Equity Global Practice, The World Bank. 2017. Background working paper for Afghanistan’s Poverty Assessment.
with Silvia Redaelli
Housing adequacy is an important dimension of people’s wellbeing, yet there is no consensus or international standard to define and measure adequate housing, or the absence of it. In this paper we propose a latent utility model to measure housing adequacy that is consistent with the guidelines in the United Nation’s Right to Adequate Housing. First, we provide formal proof that if discrete ordinal data on housing indicators meets the ordering consistency conditions defined herein, housing-adequacy rankings can be gleaned from the eigenvector corresponding to the largest eigenvalue in Multiple Correspondence Analysis (MCA). Second, we define welfare consistent cut-off points for housing deprivation. The algorithm measures the incidence of housing deprivation as headcounts, providing a multidimensional poverty rate for housing. Lastly, we provide an example to estimate housing deprivation rates using Afghanistan's Living Conditions Survey.
Mobility and pathways to the middle class in Nepal. Policy Research Working Paper Series 7824, The World Bank. 2016. Background working paper for Nepal’s Poverty Assessment.
with Sailesh Tiwari and Akhmad Shidiq
This paper introduces a variety of concepts and methods to examine living standards improvements in Nepal in a dynamic perspective. Using data from three rounds of Nepal Living Standards Surveys conducted in the past two decades, together with data from a nationally representative survey that was implemented in 2014 specifically to collect information on social and economic mobility, the paper presents novel statistics on the extent of inter- and intra-generational mobility in Nepal. The findings suggest that there has been appreciable upward mobility in education; that is, Nepalis today are increasingly more likely to be better educated than their parents. However, inter-generational mobility of occupations has been much more muted, with 47 percent of Nepal today remaining in the same occupation as their parents. Upward mobility is higher for younger cohorts and for individuals who move from their rural areas of birth to an urban area. There are also significant differences in mobility by social groups, with Dalits and Terai caste groups having lower upward mobility odds. Examining mobility within generations using synthetic panel techniques, the paper finds that: (a) for every two people who escape poverty, one slides back, suggesting significant churning around the poverty line; (b) a large fraction of those who have escaped poverty remain vulnerable to falling back, with an overall vulnerable population of 45 percent; and (c) the share of the middle class—defined as those with sufficiently low likelihood of falling back into poverty—has increased steadily over the past two decades, reaching 22 percent in 2010–11. However, triangulating subjective well-being data from Gallup, it appears that a majority of even those who constitute the middle class are fundamentally insecure about their economic futures. The prevalence of a large vulnerable population and a nascent, growing but struggling middle class represents a key challenge to consolidating recent gains in moving people out of poverty.
Born with a silver spoon: inequality in educational achievement across the world. Policy Research Working Paper Series 7152, The World Bank. 2015. Discussion working paper in the context of the launch of World Bank’s Visualize Inequality.
with Ambar Narayan and Sailesh Tiwari
This paper assesses inequality of opportunity in educational achievement using the Human Opportunity Index methodology on data from the Programme for International Student Assessment. The findings suggest that there are large inequalities in learning outcomes as measured by demonstrated proficiency in the Programme for International Student Assessment test scores in math, reading, and science. Differences in wealth, parental education, and area of residence explain a bulk of this inequality in most of the countries in the sample. Consistent with what has been documented previously in the literature, the paper also finds a strong and stable correlation between inequality of opportunity and public spending on school education. An exploration of the changes in inequality of opportunity between the 2009 and 2012 rounds of the Programme for International Student Assessment, using parametric and nonparametric techniques, suggests that there has been little progress.