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How do governments determine policy priorities? Studying development strategies through spillover networks

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Document pages: 53 pages

Abstract: Determining policy priorities is a challenging task for any governmentbecause there may be, for example, a multiplicity of objectives to besimultaneously attained, a multidimensional policy space to be explored,inefficiencies in the implementation of public policies, interdependenciesbetween policy issues, etc. Altogether, these factor s generate a complexlandscape that governments need to navigate in order to reach their goals. Toaddress this problem, we develop a framework to model the evolution ofdevelopment indicators as a political economy game on a network. Our approachaccounts for the --recently documented-- network of spillovers between policyissues, as well as the well-known political economy problem arising from budgetassignment. This allows us to infer not only policy priorities, but also theeffective use of resources in each policy issue. Using development indicatorsdata from more than 100 countries over 11 years, we show that thecountry-specific context is a central determinant of the effectiveness ofpolicy priorities. In addition, our model explains well-known aggregate factsabout the relationship between corruption and development. Finally, thisframework provides a new analytic tool to generate bespoke advice ondevelopment strategies.

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