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Migration and development, economic growth, aid effectiveness, economic history
Michael Clemens is co-director of migration, displacement, and humanitarian policy and a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, where he studies the economic effects and causes of migration around the world. He has published on migration, development, economic history, and impact evaluation, in peer-reviewed academic journals including the American Economic Review, and his research has been awarded the Royal Economic Society Prize. He also serves as a Research Fellow at the IZA Institute of Labor Economics in Bonn, Germany, an Associate Editor of the Journal of Population Economics and World Development. He is the author of the book The Walls of Nations, forthcoming from Columbia University Press. Previously, Clemens has been an Affiliated Associate Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University, a visiting scholar at New York University, and a consultant for the World Bank, Bain & Co., the Environmental Defense Fund, and the United Nations Development Program. He has lived and worked in Colombia, Brazil, and Turkey. He received his PhD from the Department of Economics at Harvard University, specializing in economic development, public finance, and economic history.
We use a panel of country-level crop yields in Africa to estimate the relationship between yields and temperature as well as precipitation. Maize, sorghum, millet, and groundnuts are predicted to show significant yield reductions in the medium term even under moderate warming. Our estimation uses the distribution of temperatures within each day at the location a particular crop is grown. Given potential data quality issues for Africa, the predicted temperature response function is contrasted to the one in the United States, where we find robust nonlinear temperature effects, i.e., yields are first increasing in temperature, but decrease sharply once they pass an upper threshold (29C for maize). The slope of the decline above the threshold is much steeper than the incline below it. The increased frequency of temperatures above the upper threshold is responsible for the significant reduction in yields.
Does the emigration of highly educated people necessarily deplete skills in developing countries through a brain drain? Maybe not. In Fiji, according to a new CGD working paper by Satish Chand and CGD research fellow Michael Clemens, the sudden and massive departure of people with higher education not only raised investment in tertiary education but also increased the number of well-educated people inside Fiji, even after subtracting those who had left.
Why do some governments provide more public goods than others? Focusing on the case of public education, this article challenges the centrality given to the role of democracy and mass pressure for redistribution; and posits an alternative explanation rooted in the role of internal political disorder. The paper begins by documenting that, historically, in the vast majority of Latin American and European countries, public education systems emerged and achieved considerable expansion during non-democratic regimes and in the absence of popular demand for education. Why did political elites have an interest in setting up these costly systems in the absence of electoral incentives to do so? Based on historical evidence for select cases, Paglayan posits that instances of widespread internal political disorder such as civil wars propelled elites to use mass education as a means to instill values that would help prevent future rebellions against their authority. The statistical tests for this argument focus on assessing how a legacy of civil war impacts post-war investments in education provision. In analyses that exploit the regional concentration of civil war in Chile during the mid-nineteenth century, she shows that in the aftermath of the 1859 civil war—the causes of which had nothing to do with education provision—the central government made an unprecedented investment in mass schooling, and the expansion was greatest in those regions that had rebelled against the government. She also shows the generalizability of this argument with original data on education enrollment rates and civil war for Latin American and European countries beginning in 1830. Overall, the paper conceptualizes mass education less as a service for ordinary citizens and more as a tool used by political elites to consolidate power.
Bureaucracies with field operations that cannot be easily supervised and monitored are often caught in two potential sources of dysfunctions: field agents using asymmetric information to their own advantage, and limiting fields agents’ ability to use the same information to improve projects. In his new paper, Dan Honig examines this trade-off in the context international development organizations (IDOs).