Category Archives: Institutions and Growth

From rebellion to electoral violence

Promoting democratisation and elections has been at the core of peace-building missions in post-conflict societies since the end of the Cold War. Recent examples are Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq and Libya, just to name a few. Democratisation … Continue reading

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How do African incomes compare to the rest of the world?

How poor are people in Sub-Saharan Africa compared to the rest of the World? International comparisons of GDP per capita do not provide an answer to this question because they ignore within-country inequality (i.e. every individual in a country is … Continue reading

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Lessons from macro-prudential policy in emerging markets

Last week, Donald Kohn, current member of Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee and former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors at the FED, gave a seminar at Oxford University on a key challenge faced by policymakers today: how … Continue reading

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Banking in Africa: taking stock and looking forward

Banking in Africa has undergone dramatic changes over the past 20 years. While dominated by government-owned banks in the 1980s and subject to restrictive regulation – including interest rate ceilings and credit quotas – financial liberalization, institutional and regulatory upgrades … Continue reading

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A loan shark in sheep’s clothing? Is commercialization of microfinance bad for borrower welfare?

After years of positive media attention and a Nobel Peace Prize for Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, it’s been hard to miss the recent controversy surrounding the microfinance industry. Critical media reports have highlighted the role of high interest rates … Continue reading

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World Development Report 2014: a missed opportunity?

The World Development Report is the flagship statement by the World Bank on development for the upcoming year. As someone who spends a considerable amount of time working on risk and insurance in developing countries, I was excited to see … Continue reading

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Property rights in diverse places: lessons from Dar es Salaam

  Last year, while wandering around a slum in Dar es Salaam with a colleague,  I happened upon a local landowner who was visibly displeased with how his plot had been demarcated in a recent large-scale land survey. A few … Continue reading

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What is the impact of natural resource booms on income inequality? Some lessons from Australia

Commodity price shocks can have powerful but unequal effects on labour, capital and land. A large literature, often referred to as the ‘Dutch Disease’ literature, documents the effects of these commodity booms on factors of production. An increase in global … Continue reading

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Fungibility and off-budget aid

If you’ve been following development blogs for a few years, you probably remember The Great Fungibility Debate of 2010 that was sparked by a paper in the Lancet written by researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. To … Continue reading

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Africa in two recessions

Our spring term ended a few weeks ago. I teach an undergraduate course that focuses on the economic history of the twentieth century. Unsurprisingly, the Great Depression is a major focus. The current mainstream view is that monetary shocks were … Continue reading

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