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Development Policy Review November 2022 round-up

Written by Annalisa Prizzon

Image credit:Book lot on table Image license:Tom Hermans / Unsplash

The latest issue of Development Policy Review (DPR) for 2022 is now out. And it is also an opportunity for us in the editorial team to acknowledge and thank all the colleagues – 123 this past year – who gave up some of their time to advise us on the novelty and quality of the manuscripts that were sent out for peer review. Most importantly they helped authors sharpen and strengthen their analyses and help find solutions to policy problems grounded in robust evidence. Heartfelt thanks for their generosity and constructive comments.

As a reminder, DPR is a peer-reviewed journal that focuses on the links between research and policy in all aspects of international development in low and middle-income countries and across the spectrum of social science disciplines.

Here is a summary of the rationale, findings and recommendations of the 11 articles in the latest issue.

Development cooperation by European regions

In their article, Bernhard Reinsberg and Sebastian Dellepiane introduce a new dataset of 195 European regions to provide systematic information on which regions engage in international development cooperation. They find that subnational development cooperation extends far beyond some well-cited cases, given that around 70 regions have some institutional structure for development cooperation. With relatively small budgets, regional aid delivery primarily relies on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and supports a variety of purposes in the sustainable development agenda, including human rights, environmental affairs, fair trade, sustainable consumption, and development education at home.

Governance of organic cocoa production

In his article, Godfred Adduow Obeng investigates the existing regulations governing the production and importation of organic cocoa. He finds that the EU regulations on the production and importation of organic cocoa take a vertical approach to multi-level governance. Organic cocoa farmers, who come lower down in the governance hierarchy, have no role in policy-making and have simply to follow these regulations.

Secondary education and impact on performance in higher education in Ghana

In this article, Gordon Abekah-Nkrumah, Patrick Opoku Asuming and Hadrat Yusif estimate the effects of an additional year in senior high school on academic performance at the university level in Ghana.

Role of education in response to the climate–environment emergency

In his article, Colin Bangay finds that education provision in low- and middle-income countries is already being affected by climate change. Differentiated education reform responses are required to reflect both responsibilities for carbon emissions and vulnerability to climate shocks.

Child labour and school attendance

In their article, Jorge Valero-Gil and Magali Valero evaluate the factors that have led to the changes in child labour and school attendance of children aged 12–14 in Mexico during the 2000–2020 period. They find that the most important factor behind school attendance was the parents' human capital, measured as years of education.

Evaluation of India's employment programme in eastern Uttar Pradesh

In this article, Kartik Misra tries to understand how public participation and local political economy factors affect access to public employment and equal wages for the most marginalised groups of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. He finds that awareness among programme beneficiaries of their legal entitlements and awareness at various levels of government about the programme determines the provision of NREGA employment in one of the poorest regions of the country.

“Zombie firms” and impact on employment growth

To prevent job losses, firms facing insolvency in China may be kept running by bank credit, even though they show few signs of returning to profit. These loss-making firms are termed “zombies”. In their article, Xiaohan Guo and co-authors analyse the effect of zombie firms within a postal zone – a sub-division of the county – on the growth of employment in non-zombie firms in the same zone in China. The authors find that the presence of zombies in the same postal code does indeed slow the growth of employment in healthy firms. This effect is stronger for private firms, small firms, and those located in central China.

Financial crisis and income inequality

In his article, Thanh Cong Nguyen examines how different types of financial crises affect income distribution. He identifies that any type of financial crisis results in a larger income gap between the rich and the poor. Although little attention has been given to debt crises, these are associated with higher income inequality than banking and currency crises. The author also shows that the effects of banking crises on income inequality in low-income, lower-middle income and upper-middle income countries (LICs, LMICs and UMICs respectively) are more pronounced than in high-income countries (HICs).

Tax evasion and small firms

In their article, Tom Moerenhout and Joonseok Yang investigate what determines the attitudes of small firms on their potential evasion of taxes on profits (tax morale) considering a large-scale sample of firms in Nigeria. They find that small firms in Nigeria that have a higher trust in the government seem to have better tax morale. But firms that believe corruption is relatively frequent have notably worse morale. Firms that are registered and have positive expectations of their own growth also appear to have better tax morale.

Researcher effects in survey-based research

In her article, Kerstin Tomiak argues that social relations between the researcher, surveyors, and participants shape the research process and hence knowledge creation by comparing data generated by two groups of locally hired surveyors in South Sudan. The data show that the researcher's positionality, broadly conceived, influences data collection. The way the locally-hired surveyors perceive the lead researcher and the economically challenging environment of South Sudan affect the data that were gathered with a social survey, and consequently knowledge production.

Localisation of global issues

In their article Christine Hackenesch, Svea Koch and Sebastian Ziaja offer a novel empirical approach to localising global development problems in country contexts worldwide. They show that traditional development concepts of binary world order and foreign aid as financial transfer to remedy imbalances are not enough to address constellations of global problems and capacity that have long evolved beyond rich and poor.