IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

New Frontiers in Project Evaluation? A Comment on Devarajan, Squire, and Suthiwart-Narueput


  • Harberger, Arnold C


Readers might infer from the paper by Devarajan, Squire, and Suthiwart-Narueput and from Hammer's applications of that methodology to health projects, that the authors are proposing fundamental modifications of the standard techniques and of received theory of cost-benefit analysis (otherwise known as applied welfare economics and in some uses as social or economic project evaluation). Such an inference is not warranted, however. So far as I can see, nearly everything the authors propose fits quite easily within the inherited corpus of applied welfare economics. The steps that they advocate are modifications not of standard cost-benefit analysis, but of habits that have developed over the years and decades both in the World Bank and quite generally among practitioners of economic project evaluation. Hammer nicely summarizes Devarajan, Squire, and Suthiwart-Narueput's main prescription: there should be a firm rationale for public involvement if a project is to be done in the public sector; the project should be compared with a clear "counterfactual"; the fiscal impact of the project should be clearly identified and should be assigned a properly estimated cost; and the issue of fungibility of funds should be clearly addressed in weighing the economic consequences of project loans.

Suggested Citation

  • Harberger, Arnold C, 1997. "New Frontiers in Project Evaluation? A Comment on Devarajan, Squire, and Suthiwart-Narueput," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 12(1), pages 73-79, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:12:y:1997:i:1:p:73-79

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ghatak, Maitreesh & Guinnane, Timothy W., 1999. "The economics of lending with joint liability: theory and practice," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 195-228, October.
    2. Sujata Visaria, 2009. "Legal Reform and Loan Repayment: The Microeconomic Impact of Debt Recovery Tribunals in India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(3), pages 59-81, July.
    3. Patrick Honohan & Thorsten Beck, 2007. "Making Finance Work for Africa," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6626.
    4. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Guillermo Zamarripa, 2003. "Related Lending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 231-268.
    5. Augusto de la Torre & Juan Carlos Gozzi & Sergio L. Schmukler, 2008. "Capital Market Development: Whither Latin America?," NBER Chapters,in: Financial Markets Volatility and Performance in Emerging Markets, pages 121-154 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52.
    7. Xavier Gine & Dean Karlan, 2006. "Group versus Individual Liability: A Field Experiment in the Philippines," Working Papers 940, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    8. Lorenzo Guarcello & Fabrizia Mealli & Furio Rosati, 2010. "Household vulnerability and child labor: the effect of shocks, credit rationing, and insurance," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 23(1), pages 169-198, January.
    9. Djankov, Simeon & McLiesh, Caralee & Shleifer, Andrei, 2007. "Private credit in 129 countries," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 299-329, May.
    10. Stijn Claessens & Luc Laeven, 2003. "Financial Development, Property Rights, and Growth," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(6), pages 2401-2436, December.
    11. Clarke, George R.G. & Cull, Robert & Martinez Peria, Maria Soledad, 2006. "Foreign bank participation and access to credit across firms in developing countries," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 774-795, December.
    12. Ashraf Nava & Karlan Dean & Yin Wesley, 2006. "Deposit Collectors," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(2), pages 1-24, March.
    13. Dean Karlan & Martin Valdivia, 2011. "Teaching Entrepreneurship: Impact of Business Training on Microfinance Clients and Institutions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 510-527, May.
    14. Hanan G. Jacoby & Emmanuel Skoufias, 1997. "Risk, Financial Markets, and Human Capital in a Developing Country," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(3), pages 311-335.
    15. repec:hrv:faseco:30747188 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Beck, Thorsten & de la Torre, Augusto, 2006. "The basic analytics of access to financial services," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4026, The World Bank.
    17. Atif Mian, 2006. "Distance Constraints: The Limits of Foreign Lending in Poor Economies," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(3), pages 1465-1505, June.
    18. Coleman, Brett E., 1999. "The impact of group lending in Northeast Thailand," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 105-141, October.
    19. Ayyagari, Meghana & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Maksimovic, Vojislav, 2007. "Firm innovation in emerging markets : the roles of governance and finance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4157, The World Bank.
    20. Claessens, Stijn & Demirguc-Kunt, Asl[iota] & Huizinga, Harry, 2001. "How does foreign entry affect domestic banking markets?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 891-911, May.
    21. Jacoby, Hanan G, 1994. "Borrowing Constraints and Progress through School: Evidence from Peru," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(1), pages 151-160, February.
    22. Klapper, Leora & Laeven, Luc & Rajan, Raghuram, 2006. "Entry regulation as a barrier to entrepreneurship," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(3), pages 591-629, December.
    23. Claire Lelarge & David Sraer & David Thesmar, 2010. "Entrepreneurship and Credit Constraints: Evidence from a French Loan Guarantee Program," NBER Chapters,in: International Differences in Entrepreneurship, pages 243-273 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Massimo FLORIO & Silvia VIGNETTI, 2004. "Cost benefit analysis, developing planning and the EU cohesion fund: learning from experience," Departmental Working Papers 2004-31, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    2. Anderson, James E. & Martin, Will, 1998. "Evaluating public expenditures when governments must rely on distortionary taxation," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1981, The World Bank.
    3. Behrman, Jere R., 2010. "The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Mexican PROGRESA Anti-Poverty and Human Resource Investment Conditional Cash," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 1473-1485, October.
    4. Alderman, Harold & Behrman, Jere R. & Tasneem, Afia, 2015. "The contribution of increased equity to the estimated social benefits from a transfer program: An illustration from PROGRESA:," IFPRI discussion papers 1475, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:12:y:1997:i:1:p:73-79. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.