Foreign Aid And Economic Development. Education And Student Development Article Review Examples
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Do elites benefit from democracy and foreign aid in developing countries?
The topic the article discusses is whether political elites benefit from democracy and foreign aid comparing to the rest of population in world. The author makes the following conclusion that the final results of his research conducted provide robust support for the hypothesis by making it clear that democracy and foreign aid is indeed has an impact on total income of elite in many developing countries, yet not specifically in autocracies. It is widely believed that in recipient countries most of beneficial effects of foreign aid are removed by political elites. According to statistic on total income which came from the World Income Inequality Database for 88 countries that are politically developing, it was found the following results. Democracy and foreign aid in conjunction are connected with a higher part of total income kept by the upper quintile. Therefore it seems that contrary to widely thought beliefs foreign aid has a greater impact on the income spreading which is not accurate in developing countries which are politically democratic while the impacts are too slight in autocratic countries.
The article ends up with a discussion of possible vehicles generating this strange impact. The effect of foreign aid on macroeconomic increases, especially the increase of GDP per capita, has been researched for a long time. Although there are no particular conclusions for policy maker and researchers to trust of with full confidence and assurance. Nevertheless the research improved our knowledge and moreover understanding of the wide range of potential macroeconomic implications of foreign aid. In his article Bjørnskov C. discusses whether “political elites, defined as the share of the population belonging to the upper income quintile, actually benefit from foreign aid relative to the rest of the population” (p. 115, 2009) He also states that “results provide qualified support for the pessimist hypothesis by indicating that foreign aid is positively associated with elites’ share of total income in democratic developing countries but not particularly so in autocracies” (p.115, 2009). Then the author ends with that “the findings neither reject nor confirm the theory that foreign aid in general biases the income distribution by enabling elites to ‘steal’ donor funds. What arises is, instead, the moral paradox that foreign aid in conjunction with democracy seems to be associated with a distribution of the national income skewed in favor of the richest part of the population” (p.115, 2009).
The regresses of interest in the model are democracy and foreign aid. Foreign aid is estimated as the standard measure Official Development Assistance (ODA), from the DAC database (OECD, 2006). It is also included as a share of GDP in the regressions of the country that receives payments and it is also log-transformed so to give an opportunity for reducing returns. Democracy is measured by the Polity IV index of democracy (Marshall and Jaggers, 2004). The democracy variable is defined on the interval [0; 10] which show high values for democratic countries and low values for countries with regimes that are undemocratic. In the article the author formulates the model of regression for the income quintiles as qjit =a j(ln(aidit)????ca)+d j(democracyit ????cd) +da j(democracyit????cd)(ln(aidit)????ca)+Xitj +ji+jit j = 1 ,where qjit are the income quintiles in country i and period t, aid and democracy are the measures of foreign aid and democracy while X are additional control variables.
All data results in the following that excluding a set of variables that are instrumental random impacts were used as feasible least squares estimator. The author states that “ the breusch-pagan test for random effects and a hausman test for fixed effects are reported for all regression; the former is significant in all but three of the 40 regressions reported here while the hausman test is significant in none of the 40 cases” (p.118, 2009). The data in the article shows that Namibia with its (78% in the early 90s) was found where are the highest income shares, it is also goes next to Zimbabwe with 77% and Gambia with 76%. These countries receive foreign aid for a long term. It is also hard to illustrate a particular picture from the raw data because the group of countries with significantly high shares contained both non-democracies and democracies.
The weakness of the model is that it seems to have an error component structure jit an idiosyncratic error term, with ji being a time constant and country specific error term. The author’s consonants are ca = 1:538 and cd = 3:619, which are not particularly the sample averages. The control variables (Xit) estimate the quintiles which are set on consumption/expenditure or income earnings, regional and time dummies which are North Africa, Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East, the Pacific, Latin America and also some post communist countries.
Therefore the weakness of the article is that neither the standard errors nor the partial effects were reported. The author mostly focuses in the fact that a j is not noticeable while da j is noticeably important for the quintile that are rich and is noticeably unimportant for the four quintiles that are poor. It also can be argues that foreign aid is not noticeably associated, in countries which are mostly democratic developing, with income redistribution.
According to the article an open question is remained and is being raised whether autocracies are less receptive than democracies. Any reduction of inequality was failed to be found in for example the Caribbean and Latin America which are considered relatively democratic countries.
The main results of the article Bjørnskov C. points that “proceeding to the central estimates, the findings indicate that for the average developing country in the sample, inflows of foreign aid exert a negative influence on the income distribution at levels of democracy above roughly 2.5-3 on the Polity IV index. Turning the estimates the other way, the results can also be interpreted as showing that democracy exerts a negative influence when inflows of foreign aid exceed approximately 7 to 9% of GDP. The estimates are also of economic significance across a substantial part of the distribution and support the notion that aid is detrimental to income equality in democratic developing countries” (p. 122, 2009). It can be summarized that because the results cannot inform of which vehicles are more likely thus future research is needed. Speaking of the findings Bjørnskov C. says that “ the findings indicate that for the average developing country in the sample, inflows of foreign aid exert a negative influence on the income distribution at levels of democracy above roughly 2.5-3, that can be interpreted that democracy exerts a negative influence when inflows of foreign aid exceed approximately 7 to 9% of GDP” (p.117-118, 2009). Consequently the findings provide proof that democracy links to distribution of the income in particularly countries that are aid-dependent.
In conclusion the article discusses the problem that we usually faced in interpreting regression models with partial effects that are non-constant. Bjørnskov points foreign aid is negatively associated with share of total income with elites in autocracies unlike in countries that are democratic developing. It is clear from the article that donors are encountering a moral dilemma particularly due to the fact that they are ought to make a decision and choose between income equality and democracy. Although a set of regressions is questionable. The author’s model illustrates a statistically clear association between the income distribution and foreign aid in countries which are non-democratic. Nevertheless, there is no statistically clear and noticeable association between foreign aid and distribution in countries that are democratic developing. The author makes the following point that “ as puzzling as the results may be they are nonetheless consistent with a number of examples from the developing world. Botswana, for example, still ahs an income distribution to match its autocratic neighbors despite being democratic since its independence in 1966, having received average aid inflows of 10% of GDP since, and having grown at record rates” (p.123, 2009). Later speaking on the results he states that “ the results are likely to be troubling as they question whether separate goals can be achieved through foreign aid” (p. 123, 2009). In conclusion it is clear from the article that Foreign aid’s inflows itself makes democratic policy failures and makes countries that are developing to have more skewed distributions of income.
Remedial education and student achievement: a regression-discontinuity analysis.
Accountability and standards have become a very conspicuous characteristics of the educational landscape, educators have trusted programs that are remedial for instance grade retention and summer school in order to facilitate low-reaching pupils encounter minimum academic standards. Nevertheless the effectiveness of this kind of programs was found to be miscellaneous. Although in Chicago recent school reforms efforts gives a chance to check the causal influence of these remedial educational programs. Jacob B.A. & Lefgren L. add that “in 1996, the Chicago Public Schools instituted an accountability policy that tied summer school and promotional decisions to performance on standardized tests, which resulted in a highly nonlinear relationship between current achievement and the probability of attending summer school or being retained” (p.226, 2004). It is widely known that education is one of the most significant routes. Many concerns of equity and economic growth are raised by governments today. In order to experience success on labor market it is cognitive ability that plays a significant determinant. Because education is a very important issue a lot of economists have dedicated their time to analyzing what aspects have a great impact on academic achievement. It’s been significantly popular in recent years to make such policies. It is known from the article that sixteen states supply funding for districts that have such institution the so called summer schools where it is required to study in summer for pupils that do not meet academic requirements or students who are low-achieving.
Interestingly Jacob B.A. & Lefgren L.”in the summer of 1999, New York City provided summer help for 70,000 students, and Chicago required over 30,000 low-achieving students to attend summer classes” (p.226, 2004). Also there is an increasing interest in grade retention too. Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington DC and New York City, which are the biggest school districts in the country, not a long time ago have made policies that require pupils in case of having a low grade to repeat a class in order to meet basic standards and school merits. It was also established that those students, who made it through retention studies, have eventually a lower school adjustment, academic achievement, self-esteem and enhanced rates of dropouts. In the article, a regression discontinuity design is used in order to analyze the usual impacts of grade retention and summer school on achievements of students. The generated exogenous variation is used.
The study in the article utilized data that is administrative from the CPS system. Records of student contain an important information on student demographics, such as gender, race, guardian, free lunch eligibility and age, and on individual-level information on test points as well as the essential information on school and residential mobility, bilingual and special education status. Nowadays it is also possible to follow individual students throughout their public school journey thanks to unique student identification numbers. Data that is school-level contain school resource and demographic information such as the socioeconomic and racial composition at the school. The final measure is used in the data is student scores on the reading and math section of the ITBS, which is a multiple-choice standardized exam conducted every year among students who study in grades three to eight.
Jacob B.A. & Lefgren L “the base sample for this study consists of the cohort of students who were in the third and sixth grades from the 1993–1994 school year to the 1998–1999 school year, a total of 402,924 observations. We delete approximately Given the low achievement levels in the CPS, the promotional policy applied to a substantial proportion of students. Over 40% of third-graders failed to meet the promotional standards from 1997 to 1999, as did approximately 30% of sixth graders” (p.229, 2004).
It was estimated that most of students have failed on the reading exam which appeared to be more difficult that the math section, eventually students failed either the reading section alone or both math and reading sections. Jacob B.A. & Lefgren L “even after 5% to 10% of students received waivers from the policy, 21% of third-graders and 13% of sixth- and eighth-graders were required to repeat a grade. In order to understand the difficulties inherent in estimating the treatment effect of school interventions, it is useful to specify a learning function which is as follow: Yi,t_1 _ BXi,t _ __Treat_i,t _ ui _ i,t_1, where Y is the outcome, X is a vector of demographic and past performance variables, Treat is a binary variable that takes on a value of 1 if a student receives some type of treatment and 0 otherwise, u represents unobserved (to the researcher) student ability, is an error term, and t and i are time and individual subscripts respectively. _ is the treatment effect, which we assume for the moment to be constant” (p. 229-230, 2004).
It is stated in the article that an easy approach to implement a regression discontinuity design is to compare those of students at the cutoff with the mean achievements of students below the cutoff. The authors of the article offer the following mathematic expression: (Y_ c_1,t_1 _ Y_ c_1,t) _ (Y_ c,t_1 _Y_ c,t), where Jacob B.A. & Lefgren L “Y_ represents mean achievement, the first subscript denotes performance relative to the reading cutoff (c indicates students at the cutoff, and c _ 1 denotes students just below the cutoff) and the second subscript denotes timing” (p.223, 2004).
The strengths of the article is the following it can provide with insight information on the effects of remedial education through data. It is also useful for confirmation and exploration. It uses a profound data analysis which sometimes based on large probability samples.
The weakness of the article is that the data used in the article during the researchers is not relevant anymore because most of the statistics was conducted during the late 90s. Therefore most of the information needs more evaluation and validation. Some of the estimates are robust to the inclusion of nonlinear terms. The drawback of one of the approaches is that it relies on understanding the functional form of the relationship between the variable that determines treatment and the outcome variable. Eventually this approach leads to the need to test the validity of the assumption in two ways. The other weakness of the model is the fact that the probability of retention does not change discontinuously prevents us from using the same first-stage relationship given by equation. Also the estimates of the treatment impact are captured in the article only for a specific group of students. Moreover the authors encountered the following problem due to the fuzzy discontinuity it was impossible to limit analysis to students immediately above and below the cutoff.
In conclusion Jacob B.A. & Lefgren L. say that “ using a regression discontinuity design, we find that the net effect of these programs was to substantially increase academic achievement among third-graders, but not sixth-graders” (p.226, 2004). Moreover it was also found that retention enhances achievement for pupils of third-grade and has very little impact on achievement in math field among pupils of sixth-grade. It is important to recognize a few issues.
Firstly, grade retention and summer school examined in the research were implemented in high-stakes testing way hence Jacob B.A. & Lefgren L. make a comment that “ our estimates reflect the impact of summer school and grade retention with incentives (for example, the student had to pass the August exam to avoid retention), which may be different than the effects of similar programs in the absence of such incentives” (p.243,2004). Secondly, despite the fact that both programs implemented in other urban districts,, for example Boston, and Washington, DC, New York City, and Chicago are very similar in structure due to the fact that teachers are chosen by the principal, small class sizes and a highly structured curriculum are all incorporated characteristics that eventually lead to the successful completion of the program. Later Jacob B.A. & Lefgren L say that “ taking these factors into account, our results are best interpreted as indicating the achievement gains that are possible with remedial education for low-achieving students” (p.243, 2004). Therefore retention grade system and remedial summer school make it possible, under favorable circumstances of course, to enhance the academic achievement of young disadvantaged pupils. These programs give such students at least a little hope to finally face high standards and improve academic achievement. Also, positive spillover impacts were not captured.
Bjørnskov C. (2009). Do elites benefit from democracy and foreign aid in developing countries ? p. 115-124.
Jacob B.A. & Lefgren L. (2004).Remedial education and student achievement: a regression-discontinuity analysis. p. 226-243.
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