International Development

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International Development

Experts in health, education, governance, energy and social justice collaborate to learn how different levers of action can impact communities.

Research Spotlight

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Causes of Indonesia’s Forest Fires

New research features a 30,000-village case study of the 2015 fire season on Sumatra and Kalimantan and asks which villages, for a given level of spatial fire risk, are more likely to have fire.
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Fateful Decisions: Choices That Will Shape China's Future

Experts provide a cutting-edge analytic framework for understanding the decisions that will determine China's trajectory.
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Do Immigrants Assimilate More Slowly Today Than in the Past?

Using millions of historical census records and modern birth certificates, new research documents that immigrants assimilated into U.S. society at similar rates in the past and present.

Featured Scholars

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Lisa Blaydes

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
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Lisa Blaydes

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Associate Professor of Political Science
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Ertharin Cousin

Visiting Scholar at the Center on Food Security and the Environment
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Ertharin Cousin

Visiting Scholar at the Center on Food Security and the Environment
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Alberto Díaz-Cayeros

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
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Alberto Díaz-Cayeros

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Affiliated faculty, Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law
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Prashant Loyalka

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
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Prashant Loyalka

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Education

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Publications

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Journal Article

Can Reading Programs Improve Reading Skills and Academic Performance in Rural China?

Qiufeng Gao, Huan Wang, Di Mo, Yaojiang Shi, Kaleigh Kenny, Scott Rozelle
China Economic Review , 2018

In this paper, we attempt to evaluate the effectiveness of reading programs at improving the reading skills and academic achievement of primary school students in rural China. Using survey data on 4108 students, we find that students exhibited low levels of reading achievement, independent reading quantity, and reading confidence in the absence of any treatment. However, our results also suggest that properly designed treatments may improve the reading and academic outcomes of students.

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Working Paper

Impact of Online Computer Assisted Learning on Education: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial in China

Bin Tang, Boya Wang, Di Mo, Linxiu Zhang, Scott Rozelle, Emma Auden, Blake Mandell
Working Paper , 2018

Education of poor and disadvantaged populations has been a long-standing challenge for education systems in both developed and developing countries. In China, millions of students in rural areas and migrant communities lag far behind their urban counterparts in terms of academic achievement. When they fall behind, they often have no way to catch up. Many of their parents have neither the skills nor the money to provide remedial tutoring; rural teachers often do not have time to give students the individual attention they need.

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Journal Article

Hierarchical Modeling of Seed Variety Yields and Decision Making for Future Planting Plans

Huaiyang Zhong, Xiaocheng Li, David Lobell, Stefano Ermon, Margaret Brandeau
Environment Systems and Decisions , 2018

Eradicating hunger and malnutrition is a key development goal of the twenty first century. This paper addresses the problem of optimally identifying seed varieties to reliably increase crop yield within a risk-sensitive decision making framework. Specifically, a novel hierarchical machine learning mechanism for predicting crop yield (the yield of different seed varieties of the same crop) is introduced.

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Book

Manipulating Globalization: The Influence of Bureaucrats on Business in China

Chen, Ling
2018

The era of globalization saw China emerge as the world's manufacturing titan. However, the "made in China" model—with its reliance on cheap labor and thin profits—has begun to wane. Beginning in the 2000s, the Chinese state shifted from attracting foreign investment to promoting the technological competitiveness of domestic firms. This shift caused tensions between winners and losers, leading local bureaucrats to compete for resources in government budget, funding, and tax breaks.

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Journal Article

Satellite detection of cover crops and their effects on crop yield in the Midwestern United States

Christopher Seifert, George Azzari, David Lobell
Environmental Research Letters , 2018

The practice of planting winter cover crops has seen renewed interest as a solution to environmental issues with the modern maize- and soybean-dominated row crop production system of the US Midwest. We examine whether cover cropping patterns can be assessed at scale using publicly available satellite data, creating a classifier with 91.5% accuracy (.68 kappa).

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Journal Article

Ability Tracking and Social Trust in China's Rural Secondary School System

Fan Li, Hongmei Yi, Yaojiang Shi, Natalie Johnson, Scott Rozelle
School Effectiveness and School Improvement , 2018

The goal of this paper is to describe and analyze the relationship between ability tracking and student social trust, in the context of low-income students in developing countries. Drawing on the results from a longitudinal study among 1,436 low-income students across 132 schools in rural China, we found a significant lack of interpersonal trust and confidence in public institutions among poor rural young adults. We also found that slow-tracked students have a significantly lower level of social trust, comprised of interpersonal trust and confidence in public institutions, relative to their fast-tracked peers. This disparity might further widen the gap between relatively privileged students who stay in school and less privileged students who drop out of school. These results suggest that making high school accessible to more students may improve social trust among rural low-income young adults.

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Journal Article

Unequal Access to College in China: How Far Have Poor, Rural Students Been Left Behind?

Hongbin Li, Prashant Loyalka, Binzhen Wu, Jieyu Xie, Scott Rozelle
The China Quarterly , 2018

In the 1990s, rural youth from poor counties in China had limited access to college. After mass college expansion started in 1998, however, it was unclear whether rural youth from poor counties would gain greater access. The aim of this paper is to examine the gap in college and elite college access between rural youth from poor counties and other students after expansion. We estimate the gaps in access by using data on all students who took the college entrance exam in 2003. Our results show that gaps in access remained high even after expansion.

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Journal Article

Effect of a Local Vision Care Center on Eyeglasses Use and School Performance in Rural China A Cluster Randomized Clinical Trial

Yue Ma, Nathan Congdon, Yaojiang Shi, Ruth Hogg, Alexis Medina, Matthew Boswell, Scott Rozelle, Mony Iver
JAMA Opthalmology , 2018

Can a county-based vision center increase eyeglasses use and improve school performance among primary schoolchildren in rural China? This cluster randomized clinical trial of 31 schools and 2613 participants showed that children who received eyeglasses earlier in the school year performed significantly better on an end-of-year mathematics test than children who received eyeglasses later in the year, equivalent to half a semester. Provision of free eyeglasses also improved children's use of spectacles.

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Journal Article

Contract Teachers and Student Achievement in Rural China - Evidence from Class Fixed Effects

Wang Lei, Siqi Zhang, Mengjie Li, Yonglei Sun, Sean Sylvia, Enyan Yang, Guangrong Ma, Linxiu Zhang, Di Mo, Scott Rozelle
The Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics , 2018
For schooling to play an important role in the development of human capital, the system of education needs to provide quality education, which among other things requires high-quality teachers. Facing fiscal constraints and growing enrolments,
school systems in developing countries often supplement their teaching staff by hiring contract teachers. However, there is limited evidence on how the effectiveness of these teachers compares to that of civil service teachers. We use a dataset from rural primary schools in western China to estimate the causal effect of contract teachers on student achievement and find that gains in student scores on standardised examinations in mathematics and Chinese are less in classes taught by contract teachers than in classes taught by civil service teachers. The results demonstrate that China’s education system needs to focus on producing high-quality teachers to improve the quality of schooling in its rural education system. The findings imply that educators in developing countries should not only seek to hire increasingly more civil service teachers in rural schools, but they should also identify ways of improving the quality of contract teachers. If efforts to improve teaching can succeed, rural students can learn more, earn higher incomes and contribute more to the productivity of the overall economy.
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Journal Article

Assessing the Quality of Upper-Secondary Vocational Education and Training: Evidence from China

Hongmei Yi, Guirong Li, Liying Li, Linxiu Zhang, Jiajia Xu, Elena Kardanova, Henry Shi, James Chu
Comparative Education Review , 2018
An increasing number of policymakers in developing countries have made the mass expansion of upper-secondary vocational education and training (VET) a top priority. The goal of this study is to examine whether VET fulfills the objectove of building skills and abilities along multiple dimensions and further identify which school-level factors help vocational students build these skills and abilities. To fulfill this goal, we analyzed representative, longitudinal data that we collected on more than 12,000 students from 118 schools in once province of central China. First, descriptive analysis shows approximately 90% of VET students do not make any gains in vocational or general skills. In addition, negative behaviors (misbehavior in the classroom, anti-social behavior, and other risky behaviors) are highly prevalent among VET students. A nontrivial proportion of student internships also fail to meet minimum government requirements for student safety and well-being. Perhaps as a result of these outcomes, more than 60% of students express dissatisfaction with their VET programs, as evidenced by eitehr self-reports or dropping out. Finally, using a multi-level model, we find that school inputs (such as school size, teacher qualifications, and per pupil expenditure) are not correlated with vocational and general skill at the end of the school year, or student dropout in the academic year.
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Book

Reinventing Japan: New Directions in Global Leadership (Book Chapter)

Kenji E. Kushida, Martin Fackler, Yoichi Funabashi, Kenji Kushida, Et al.
2018

Highly readable yet deeply researched, this book serves as an essential guide to the many ways in which Japan has risen to become one of the world's most creative and innovative societies.


• Challenges conventional views of Japan as mired in two unproductive "lost decades" by documenting the myriad ways in which the nation has embraced creativity and innovation

• Describes the ways in which Japan has transformed our lives and explains the guiding principles of one of the world's least understood, most vibrantly creative societies

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Working Paper

Abenomics and Japan's Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Is the Third Arrow Pointed in the Right Direction for Global Competition in the Digital Era of Silicon Valley?

Kenji E. Kushida, Kenji Kushida
2018

Given that much of the global leadership in value creation over the past couple of decades has been driven by the Silicon Valley model – not only a geographic region but a distinct ecosystem of complementary characteristics – the basic question this paper asks is how far Japan’s Abenomics reforms are pushing Japan towards being able to compete in an era dominated by Silicon Valley firms. 

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Journal Article

The decline in bank-led corporate restructuring in Japan: 1981-2010

Takeo Hoshi, Takeo Hoshi, Satoshi Koibuchi, Ulrike Schaede
Journal of the Japanese and International Economies , 2018

Using a unique dataset on all major corporate restructuring events in Japan between 1981 and 2010, we assess changes in the role of the main bank in guiding corporate turarounds, and the economic consequences of these changes for distressed firms. We identify firms in distress among all listed firms based on accounting data, and we separately identify firms undergoing corporate restructuring based on a newspaper search for the Japanese term “saiken”.

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Journal Article

The Elusive Goal of Global Food Security

Rosamond L. Naylor
2018

Ending world hunger is a universal goal, yet progress and social awareness of the issue waxes and wanes in the course of broader political and economic developments. The massive famine in China under Chairman Mao’s 1958–62 Great Leap Forward, a succession of severe droughts and associated famines in India in 1965–66, and the political violence that accompanied regime change in Indonesia in 1964–67 left tens of millions of people starving and drew global attention to the threat of food insecurity.

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Policy Brief

ASEAN @ 50, Southeast Asia @ Risk: What Should Be Done?

Shiro Armstrong, Niruban Balachandran, John Blaxland, Ja Ian Chong, Daniel Wei Boon Chua, Karl Eikenberry, Ralf Emmers, Donald K. Emmerson, Lori Forman, Bates Gill, James Hartsell, Richard Heydarian, James Hirai, Yoichi Kato, Evan Laksmana, Justin Nankivell, Kerry Lynn Nankivell, Kaewkamol "Karen" Pitakdumrongkit, Greg Poling, Greg Raymond, Tan See Seng, Huong Le Thu, Barbara Weisel, Belinda A. Yeomans
2018

In October 2017, twenty-two scholars from eight countries attended a workshop titled “ASEAN @ 50, Southeast Asia @ Risk: What should be done?” The workshop was designed to facilitate a frank and creative discussion of policy recommendations, with the intention of providing the resulting proposals to ASEAN member states and other regional powers.

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Journal Article

Rural education across China's 40 years of Reform: past successes and future challenges

Ai Yue, Bin Tang, Yaojiang Shi, Jingjing Tang, Guanminjia Shang, Alexis Medina, Scott Rozelle
China Agricultural Economic Review , 2018

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe the policy and trends in rural education in China over the past 40 years; and also discuss a number of challenges that are faced by China’s rural school system.

Design/methodology/approach – The authors use secondary data on policies and trends over the past 40 years for preschool, primary/junior high school, and high school.

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Journal Article

Has Abenomics Succeeded in Raising Japan's Inward Foreign Direct Investment?

Takeo Hoshi
Asian Economic Policy Review , 2018

Japan is known to have an exceptionally low level of inward foreign direct investment (FDI). The promotion of inward FDI is one of the policy goals of Abenomics structural reforms. This present paper studies the accumulation of Japan's inward FDI stock during the first 3 years of Abenomics (2012–2015), and finds no evidence that Japan's inward FDI stock increased more than the trend before Abenomics started would have predicted.

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Book

Handbook of International Food and Agricultural Policies

Timothy E. Josling, William H. Meyers, Thomas Johnson, Donna H. Roberts, Karl Meilke
World Scientific Publishing , 2017
Handbook of International Food and Agricultural Policies is a three-volume set that aims to provide an accessible reference for those interested in the aims and implementation of food and farm policies throughout the world. The treatment is authoritative, comprehensive and forward looking. The three volumes combine scholarship and pragmatism, relating academic writing to real-world issues faced by policy-makers. A companion volume looking at the future resource and climate challenges for global agriculture will be published in the future.
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Journal Article

Improving environmental practices in agricultural supply chains: The role of company-led standards

Tannis Thorlakson, Jens Hainmueller, Eric Lambin
Global Environmental Change , 2017

Food retailers and manufacturers are increasingly committing to address agricultural sustainability issues in their supply chains. In place of using established eco-certifications, many companies define their own supply chain sustainability standards.

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Journal Article

Passive Parenting and its Association with Early Child Development

Renfu Luo, Fang Jia, Ai Yue, Linxiu Zhang, Qijia Lyu, Yaojiang Shi, Meredith Yang, Alexis Medina, Sarah Kotb, Scott Rozelle
Early Child Development and Care , 2017

This study aims to investigate the developmental status of rural Chinese children, the extent of interactive parenting they receive, and the relation between the two. A sample of 448 six to eighteen-month-old children and their caregivers were randomly selected from two rural counties in Hebei and Yunnan provinces. According the third edition of the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, 48.7% of sample children exhibited cognitive delays, 40.6% language delays, and 35% social-emotional delays.

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Journal Article

Oil palm expansion in Cameroon: Insights into sustainability opportunities and challenges in Africa

Elsa Ordway, Rosamond L. Naylor, Raymond N. Nkongho, Eric Lambin
Global Environmental Change , 2017

Oil palm production expanded 1.2 million hectares in sub-Saharan Africa since 1990, with expansion accelerating in several heavily forested countries since 2000.

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Journal Article

The Education Gap of China's Migrant Children and Rural Counterparts

Xiaobing Wang, Renfu Luo, Linxiu Zhang, Scott Rozelle
Journal of Development Studies , 2017

Rural residents in China today face at least two key decisions: a) where to live and work; and b) where to send their children to school. In this paper we study the second decision: should a rural parent send their child to a public rural school or have him or her attend a private migrant school in the city. While there is an existing literature on the impact of this decision on student academic performance, one of the main shortcomings of current studies is that the data that are used to analyse this issue are not fully comparable.

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Commentary

Left Behind in the Brexit Capital?

Ian Morris
Stratfor , 2017

"Here's what the end of globalization looks like," a headline in Business Insider thundered at the end of 2016 before laying out a doom-and-gloom scenario in the wake of the Trans-Pacific Partnership's demise. The swing away from liberalization and globalization and toward protectionism and nationalism is probably the biggest political earthquake of recent times in wealthy Western countries, and explaining it is probably the biggest intellectual challenge. Until we understand its causes, after all, we cannot address them.

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Journal Article

Tuberculosis Detection and the Challenges of Integrated Care in Rural China: A Cross-sectional Standardized Patient Study

Sean Sylvia, Hao Xue, Chengchao Zhou, Yaojiang Shi, Hongmei Yi, Huan Zhou, Scott Rozelle, Madhukar Pai, Jishnu Das
PLoS Medicine , 2017

Despite recent reductions in prevalence, China still faces a substantial tuberculosis (TB) burden, with future progress dependent on the ability of rural providers to appropriately detect and refer TB patients for further care. This study (a) provides a baseline assessment of the ability of rural providers to correctly manage presumptive TB cases; (b) measures the gap between provider knowledge and practice and; (c) evaluates how ongoing reforms of China’s health system—characterized by a movement toward “integrated care” and promo- tion of initial contact with grassroots providers—will affect the care of TB patients.

 

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Case Studies

'Locked-In' to China: The Colombo Port City Project

Karthik Sivaram
2017

This case looks at the predicament of a small nation burdened by Chinese debt, accumulated by infrastructure projects under the aegis of China’s One Belt One Road initiative. By 2016, the government of Sri Lanka owed China $8 billion (almost 10% of GDP) mainly from loans taken to construct a series of infrastructure projects, many of which proved commercially unviable. Most of these were approved by the previous government under President Rajapaksa. The Colombo Port City project was the grandest and most ambitious of them all.

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