Measuring Outward Orientation in Developing Countries: Can it be Done?, Volume 566

World Bank Publications

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World Bank Publications
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Dec 31, 1991
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October 1998 The relationship between household wealth and educational enrollment of children can be estimated without expenditure data. A method for doing so-which uses an index based on household asset ownership indicators-is proposed and defended in this paper. In India, children from the wealthiest households are over 30 percentage points more likely to be in school than those from the poorest households, although this gap varies considerably across states. To estimate the relationship between household wealth and the probability that a child (aged 6 to 14) is enrolled in school, Filmer and Pritchett use National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data collected in Indian states in 1992 and 1993. In developing their estimate Filmer and Pritchett had to overcome a methodological difficulty: The NFHS, modeled closely on the Demographic and Health Surveys, measures neither household income nor consumption expenditures. As a proxy for long-run household wealth, they constructed a linear asset index from a set of asset indicators, using principal components analysis to derive the weights. This asset index is robust, produces internally coherent results, and provides a close correspondence with data on state domestic product and on state level poverty rates. They validate the asset index using data on consumption spending and asset ownership from Indonesia, Nepal, and Pakistan. The asset index has reasonable coherence with current consumption expenditures and, more importantly, works as well as-or better than-traditional expenditure-based measures in predicting enrollment status. The authors find that on average a child from a wealthy household (in the top 20 percent on the asset index developed for this analysis) is 31 percent more likely to be enrolled in school than a child from a poor household (in the bottom 40 percent). This paper-a product of Poverty and Human Resources, Development Research Group-is part of a larger effort in the group to inform educational policy. The study was funded by the Bank's Research Support Budget under the research project Educational Enrollment and Dropout (RPO 682-11). Deon Filmer may be contacted at
September 1998 While household wealth is strongly related to educational attainment of children nearly everywhere, the magnitude and pattern of the effect of wealth differs widely. The gap in attainment of children of the poor and rich ranges from only one or two years in some countries to nine or ten years in others. This attainment gap is the result of different patterns of enrollment and dropout: while in South America low attainment among the poor is almost entirely due to children who enroll then drop out early, in West Africa and South Asia many poor children never enroll. Using household survey data from 44 Demographic and Health Surveys in 35 countries, Filmer and Pritchett document different patterns in the enrollment and attainment of children from rich and poor households. They find that: * Enrollment profiles of the poor differ across countries but fall into distinctive regional patterns. In some areas (including much of South America) the poor reach nearly universal enrollment in first grade but then drop out in droves. In others (including much of South Asia and West Africa), the poor never enroll. Both patterns lead to low attainment. * There are enormous differences across countries in the wealth gap-the difference in enrollment and educational attainment between the rich and the poor. In some countries the difference between the rich and poor in the median number of years of school completed is only a year or two; in others the gap is as great as nine or ten years. * The attainment profiles can be used as diagnostic tools to examine issues in the educational system, including the extent to which enrollment is low because of the physical unavailability of schools. Filmer and Pritchett overcome the lack of data on income and consumption expenditures in the surveys by constructing a proxy for long-run household wealth, using survey information on assets and using the statistical technique of principal components. This paper-a product of Poverty and Human Resources, Development Research Group-is part of a larger effort in the group to inform education policy. The study was funded by the Bank's Research Support Budget under the research project Educational Enrollment and Dropout (RPO 682-11). Deon Filmer may be contacted at
January 1998 There is an apparent consensus that the correct health policy in developing countries is public provision of a mix of preventive and simple curative services through low level health workers and facilities. But the strength of this consensus on the primary health care paradigm is in sharp contrast to either the strength of its analytical foundations or its mixed record in practice. Filmer, Hammer, and Pritchett show how the recent empirical and theoretical literature on health policy sheds light on the disappointing experience with the implementation of primary health care. They emphasize the evidence on two weak links between government spending on health and improvements in health status. First, the capability of developing country governments to provide effective services varies widely-so health spending, even on the right services, may lead to little actual provision of services. Second, the net impact of government provision of health services depends on the severity of market failures. Evidence suggests these are the least severe for relatively inexpensive curative services, which often absorb the bulk of primary health care budgets. Government policy in health can more usefully focus directly on mitigating market failures in traditional public health activities and, in more developed settings, failures in the markets for risk mitigation. Addressing poverty requires consideration of a much broader set of policies which may-or may not-include provision of health services. This paper-a product of Poverty and Human Resources, Development Research Group-is part of a larger effort in the group to investigate efficacy in the social sectors. The study was funded by the Bank's Research Support Budget under the research project Primary Health Care: A Critical Examination (RPO 680-29). The authors may be contacted at or
January 1998 While gender disparities in health and education outcomes are higher on average in South Asian than in other countries, the large within country differences in gender disparity, between Indian states or Pakistani provinces, demand more local explanations. Using data assembled from the Demographic Health Surveys of over 50 countries and from the National Family Health Surveys of individual states in India, Filmer, King, and Pritchett create a new data set of comparable indicators of gender disparity. They establish three findings: As is by now well-known, the level of gender disparities in health and education outcomes for girls in South Asia is the highest in the world. Even within South Asia, and within India or Pakistan, there are huge variations in gender disparity. Differences in gender disparity among Indian states or among provinces of Pakistan are typically greater than those among the world's nations. The ratio of female to male child mortality in one Indian state (Haryana) is worse than in any country in the world, although in another state (Tamil Nadu) it is lower than in all but three countries. Across and within the set of developing nations, gender disparity is not only a phenomenon of poverty. There is almost no correlation between per capita income and the gender disparities in health and education outcomes. So although absolute levels of health and education outcomes for girls are strongly related to economic conditions, the disparities between outcomes for girls and boys are not. Understanding what causes such great gender disparity within South Asia is the next pressing question for researchers. This paper-a product of Poverty and Human Resources, Development Research Group-is part of a larger effort in the group to understand the determinants of gender differentials. The study was funded by the Bank's Research Support Budget under the research project Explaining Gender Disparity in South Asia (RPO 681-29). The authors may be contacted at or
This is an open access title available under the terms of a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence. It is free to read at Oxford Scholarship Online and offered as a free PDF download from OUP and selected open access locations. Governments play a major role in the development process, and constantly introduce reforms and policies to achieve developmental objectives. Many of these interventions have limited impact, however; schools get built but children don't learn, IT systems are introduced but not used, plans are written but not implemented. These achievement deficiencies reveal gaps in capabilities, and weaknesses in the process of building state capability. This book addresses these weaknesses and gaps. It starts by providing evidence of the capability shortfalls that currently exist in many countries, showing that many governments lack basic capacities even after decades of reforms and capacity building efforts. The book then analyses this evidence, identifying capability traps that hold many governments back - particularly related to isomorphic mimicry (where governments copy best practice solutions from other countries that make them look more capable even if they are not more capable) and premature load bearing (where governments adopt new mechanisms that they cannot actually make work, given weak extant capacities). The book then describes a process that governments can use to escape these capability traps. Called PDIA (problem driven iterative adaptation), this process empowers people working in governments to find and fit solutions to the problems they face. The discussion about this process is structured in a practical manner so that readers can actually apply tools and ideas to the capability challenges they face in their own contexts. These applications will help readers devise policies and reforms that have more impact than those of the past.
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