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The forgotten rationale for policy reform : the productivity of investment projects

  • Isham, Jonathan
  • Kaufmann,Daniel

Using economic rates of return from more than 1,200 public and private sector projects implemented in 61 developing countries, the authors analyze determinants of investment productivity. Results from Tobit estimation demonstrate that the degree of countrywide policy distortions - macroeconomic, exchange rate, trade and pricing - critically affects the productivity of investments. Countries with undistorted policies are likely to be unproductive investments. In countries with distorted policies, investments are likely to be unproductive. And within a country, investments become more productive when economic policymaking improves. The productivity of projects in the tradable sectors are also affected (in a nonlinear fashion) by the size of a country's public investment program. The authors discuss possible selection biases in this data set, present tests of robustness, and highlight policy implications. In particular, donor financing for improvements in the policy climate is likely to pay off. A powerful rationale for supporting structual reform is that it raises the productivity of both public and private investments.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1549.

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Date of creation: 30 Nov 1995
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1549
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  1. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1995. "Institutions And Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Measures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 207-227, November.
  2. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-37, October.
  3. King, R.G. & Rebelo, S., 1988. "Public Policy And Economic Growth: Developing Neoclassical Implications," RCER Working Papers 225, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  4. Barro, R.J., 1988. "Government Spending In A Simple Model Of Endogenous Growth," RCER Working Papers 130, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  5. Levine, Ross & Renelt, David, 1992. "A Sensitivity Analysis of Cross-Country Growth Regressions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 942-63, September.
  6. Jeffrey Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Progress of Global Integration," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1733, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  7. Mankiw, N Gregory & Romer, David & Weil, David N, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-37, May.
  8. Mauro, Paolo, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712, August.
  9. Isham, Jonathan & Narayan, Deepa & Pritchett, Lant, 1995. "Does Participation Improve Performance? Establishing Causality with Subjective Data," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 9(2), pages 175-200, May.
  10. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  11. Liu, Lili, 1993. "Entry-exit, learning, and productivity change Evidence from Chile," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 217-242, December.
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