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Energy subsidies are bigger than aid in more than half of poor countries … but we spend very little trying to reduce them

by Neil McCulloch
Photo: Peter Mello
Which of the following do you think is the most important need in developing countries?  Free health services for all to reduce child and maternal mortality Universal and decent quality education to provide children with the skills for productive jobs Cheap petrol and electricity Unless you are Scrooge, you are more likely to have chosen one of the first two on this list. Yet my new WIDER Working Paper shows that many developing countries spend far more on the third...

What role for East African hydrocarbons in the global economy post-Paris COP21?

Photo: NASA
Over the past decade significant hydrocarbon discoveries have been made across East Africa. Unsurprisingly, the respective governments countries have been excited about these discoveries, expecting revenue and local economic opportunities to follow suit. However, concerns about the macroeconomic, political, social and environmental risks associated with developing these resources have also been raised. Countries have been advised to avoid common pitfalls and seek guidance on how best to...

Domestic revenue mobilization and the role of data

Government revenues are central to funding public expenditures in all countries. Increasingly, developing countries must look to raise domestic revenue through taxes as they have very large spending needs on human development, education, health, and job creation. All of these are expensive, and aid and private finance alone simply cannot do the job. Furthermore, in order to meet the financing needs of the Sustainable Development Goals countries cannot just rely on external finance. This...

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Tax, spending, and poverty: An interview with Michael Keen

Michael Keen, Deputy Director of the IMF's Fiscal Affairs Department, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s WIDER Development Conference on Public Economics for Development ...

Lower exploration spending – another response to the end of the commodity price boom

My previous blog, which you can read here , commented on the manner in which mining companies had been able to respond to the recent decline in metals prices by significantly reducing their costs of production...

Commodity boom Mining Extractives
Cost reductions as a response to the end of the commodity price boom

The recent publication of the 3rd edition of ICMM’s The Role of Mining in National Economies (hereafter RoMiNE3) provides us with the welcome biennial review of the global situation as it affects the large mining and metals industry...

Commodity boom Mining Extractives
How are rural households in Viet Nam doing?

Viet Nam has seen major economic shifts which started in the 1980s and continue today. Many strides have been made as the country goes through structural transformation, not least a significant reduction in poverty...

Policy Brief
Tracking rural households through structural transformation: The case of Viet Nam April 2017

The quality and availability of data has become an international priority highlighted by the call for a data revolution in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development...

Growth Structural transformation Rural development
Research Brief
The implications of climate change for the extractive industries April 2017

Climate change is one of the most complex and urgent of global issues due to its potential impacts and the policies and measures needed to address those impacts...

Climate change extractives industry Natural resources
Research Brief
Oil in Ghana: How inflated expectations of oil revenues led to a deterioration in macroeconomic management April 2017

Prior to the discovery of oil, Ghana was one of the stars of the ‘Africa rising’ story, with an established track record of macroeconomic stability and fiscal discipline...

Oil Ghana extractives industry
Microsimulation models for developing countries: An interview with Jukka Pirttilä

The University of Tampere is participating in an international project in which a microsimulation model is being drafted for the evaluation of the price effects of taxation and the transfer of income in developing countries...

Tax microsimulation Public finance
Opening the vault: Data, research, and improved policymaking in South Africa

Policymakers often work in the dark, as they try to make real impact on people’s lives. If you don’t have good data, being worked on by good researchers, it can be hard to know whether efforts are truly making a difference...

Tax data firms
Feeding southern Africa?: Growing the animal-feed-to-poultry regional value chain

In 2016 the South African poultry sector faced intense pressure from two sides in the form of much higher input costs and increased imports of low-priced chicken from the European Union and the USA...

Regional value chains Competitiveness
Estimating tax avoidance: New findings, new questions

There are now a range of estimates of the global scale of tax avoidance. These include: the $600 billion annual tax loss estimated by IMF researchers Crivelli et al...

tax avoidance Tax Multinational firms
Affirmative action policies and South Africa’s racial wage gap

Racial wage inequality and discrimination have pervaded South African society for centuries. Apartheid legislation cemented these disparities by institutionalizing white job reservation and many other unfair practices...

Affirmative action Discrimination apartheid
Employing young people in South Africa: What role has the Employment Tax Incentive played?

South Africa has some of the highest rates of joblessness in the world and youth unemployment is particularly severe. Roughly two in five young South Africans who want work cannot find it, according to labour force surveys...

youth unemployment tax incentive South Africa
WDR 2017 does not disappoint: Four implications for work in development

As a political scientist specializing in the comparative politics of development, including particular attention to issues of governance and democracy, I have followed this year’s World Development Report with special interest...

World Development Report Good governance Group-based inequality
Four graphs you need to see on International Women's Day

International women's day presents a good opportunity to consider how far we've come towards achieving gender equality, and to recognize how far we still have to go...

Tackling gender inequality from all directions

Improving the position of women continues to be an important concern in development...

Gender equality Development aid Interventions
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