Documents & Reports

Karla Hoff

Sr Research Economist

KARLA HOFF is a Senior Research Economist in the Development Economics Group. Her research focuses on institutions and institutional change, particularly in India and the former Soviet Union. In experiments in north India, she has examined the implications of caste identity on the ability of individuals to respond to opportunity and to solve problems of cooperation and coordination. She has theoretically investigated coordination failures in the transition from communism, in particular, the relationship between privatization and the demand for the rule of law in post-Communist countries. She has coedited two books, Poverty Traps, which brings together three strands of the literature (on threshold effects, paths of institutional development, and neighborhood effects); and The Economics of Rural Organization, which uses theoretical tools of the economics of imperfect information together with case studies of markets in developing countries to advance the understanding of development policies. Her current work investigates the effect of role models and stereotypes on cognitive performance by children in India.

She has a PhD in Economics from Princeton, an MA from the Fletcher School, and a BA from Wellesley College. She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cote d'Ivoire.

The author's works below are drawn from the World Bank's institutional archives. You can also download other documents by this author.

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Making up people -- the effect of identity on preferences and performance in a modernizing society (English)

It is typically assumed that being hard-working or clever is a trait of the person, in the sense that it is always there, in a fixed manner. However, in an experiment with almost 600 boys in India, cues to one's place in the traditional caste order turn out to influence the expression of these traits. ... See More +

Policy Research Working Paper WPS6223 OCT 01, 2012

Pandey, Priyanka; Hoff, Karla

Tastes, castes, and culture : the influence of society on preferences (English)

Economists have traditionally treated preferences as exogenously given. Preferences are assumed to be influenced by neither beliefs nor the constraints people face. ... See More +

Policy Research Working Paper WPS5760 AUG 01, 2011

Fehr, Ernst; Hoff, Karla

Equilibrium fictions : a cognitive approach to societal rigidity (English)

This paper assesses the role of ideas in economic change, combining economic and historical analysis with insights from psychology, sociology and anthropology. ... See More +

Policy Research Working Paper WPS5219 FEB 01, 2010

Stiglitz, Joseph E.; Hoff, Karla

Dysfunctional finance : positive shocks and negative outcomes (English)

This paper shows how badly a market economy may respond to a positive productivity shock in an environment with asymmetric information about project quality: some, all, or even more than all the benefits from the increase in productivity may be dissipated. ... See More +

Policy Research Working Paper WPS5183 JAN 01, 2010

Hoff, Karla

Caste and punishment : the legacy of caste culture in norm enforcement (English)

Well-functioning groups enforce social norms that restrain opportunism, but the social structure of a society may encourage or inhibit norm enforcement. ... See More +

Policy Research Working Paper WPS5040 SEP 01, 2009

Fehr, Ernst; Hoff, Karla; Kshetramade, Mayuresh

Political alternation as a restraint on investing in influence : evidence from the post-communist transition (English)

The authors develop and implement a method for measuring the frequency of changes in power among distinct leaders and ideologically distinct parties that is comparable across political systems. ... See More +

Policy Research Working Paper WPS4747 OCT 01, 2008

Horowitz, Shale; Milanovic, Branko; Hoff, Karla

Spite and development (English)

In a wide variety of settings, spiteful preferences would constitute an obstacle to cooperation, trade, and thus economic development. This paper shows that spiteful preferences - the desire to reduce another's material payoff for the mere purpose of increasing one's relative payoff - are surprisingly widespread in experiments conducted in one of the least developed regions in India (Uttar Pradesh). ... See More +

Policy Research Working Paper WPS4619 MAY 01, 2008

Hoff, Karla; Fehr, Ernst; Kshetramade, Mayuresh

Exiting a lawless state (English)

An earlier paper showed that an economy could be trapped in an equilibrium state in which the absence of the rule of law led to asset-stripping, and the prevalence of asset-stripping led to the absence of a demand for the rule of law, highlighting a coordination failure. ... See More +

Policy Research Working Paper WPS4520 FEB 01, 2008

Hoff, Karla; Stiglitz, Joseph E.

Joseph E. Stiglitz (English)

Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2001 Nobel Laureate in Economics, helped create the theory of markets with asymmetric information and was one of the founders of modern development economics. ... See More +

Policy Research Working Paper WPS4478 JAN 01, 2008

Hoff, Karla

The creation of the rule of law and the legitimacy of property rights : the political and economic consequences of a corrupt privatization (English)

How does the lack of legitimacy of property rights affect the dynamics of the creation of the rule of law? The authors investigate the demand for the rule of law in post-communist economies after privatization under the assumption that theft is possible, that those who have "stolen" assets cannot be fully protected under a change in the legal regime toward rule of law, and that the number of agents with control rights over assets is large. ... See More +

Policy Research Working Paper WPS3779 DEC 01, 2005

Hoff, Karla; Stiglitz, Joseph E.

The kin system as a poverty trap? (English)

An institution found in many traditional societies is the extended family system (kin system), an informal system of shared rights and obligations among extended family for the purpose of mutual assistance. ... See More +

Policy Research Working Paper WPS3575 APR 01, 2005

Sen, Arijit; Hoff, Karla

Belief systems and durable inequalities : an experimental investigation of Indian caste (English)

If discrimination against an historically oppressed social group is dismantled, will the group forge ahead? The authors present experimental evidence that a history of social and legal disabilities may have persistent effects on a group's earnings through its impact on individuals' expectations. ... See More +

Policy Research Working Paper WPS3351 JUN 01, 2004

Pandey, Priyanka; Hoff, Karla

The transition from communism : a diagrammatic exposition of obstacles to the demand for the rule of law (English)

In an earlier paper, the authors presented a mathematical exposition of a theory that demonstrated that mass privatization without institutions to limit asset-stripping may not lead to a demand for the rule of law ["After the Big Bang? ... See More +

Policy Research Working Paper WPS3352 JUN 01, 2004

Hoff, Karla; Stiglitz, Joseph E.

Homeownership, community interactions, and segregation (English)

The authors consider a multi-community city where community quality is linked to residents' civic efforts, such as being proactive in preventing crime and ensuring the quality of publicly provided goods. ... See More +

Policy Research Working Paper WPS3316 MAY 01, 2004

Sen, Arijit; Hoff, Karla

The World Bank research observer 18 (2) (English)

Infectious diseases, public policy, and the marriage of economics and epidemiology; by Mark Gersovitz and Jeffrey S. Hammer. Globalization and the labor market; by Martin Rama. ... See More +

Publication 30257 SEP 30, 2003

Devarajan, Shantayanan [editor]; Gersovitz, Mark; Hammer, Jeffrey S.; Rama, Martin; Martin, Will; Hoff, Karla; Khan, Mohsin S.; Sharma, Sunil; Hoeberle, Stefan

Paths of institutional development : a view from economic history (English)

This article surveys an influential new research program on historical paths of institutional development and their consequences for growth. The research program exploits the experience of European colonialism as a kind of natural experiment whose results bear on the way institutions affect development. ... See More +

Journal Article 76448 SEP 01, 2003

Hoff, Karla

After the Big Bang? Obstacles to the emergence of the rule of law in post-communist societies (English)

With the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in 1989-91, many economic reformers supported "Big Bang" privatization-the rapid transfer of state-owned enterprises to private individuals. ... See More +

Policy Research Working Paper WPS2934 DEC 31, 2002

Hoff, Karla; Stiglitz, Joseph E.

Annual World Bank Conference on development economics - 2000 (English)

These are the proceedings of the Annual World Bank Conference on Development Economics, which gathers the global perspective of scholars, and practitioners of development policy from academic life, government, and the private sector. ... See More +

Publication 23244 JUL 31, 2001

Pleskovic, Boris; Stern, Nicholas [editors]; Karlsson, Mats; Stiglitz, Joseph E.; Sachs, Jeffrey; Kornai, Janos; Collier, Paul; Rodrik, Dani; Birdsall, Nancy; Bourguignon, Francois; Fukunari Kimura; Gunning, Jan Willem; Hoff, Karla; Easterly, William; Islam, Roumeen; Caballero, Ricardo J.; Hammour, Mohamad L.; Banerjee, Abhijit V.; Sakakibar, Eisuke; Lederman, Daniel; Menendez, Ana Maria; Perry, Guillermo; Dyck, I.J.Alexander; Roland, Gerard; Orszag, J. Michael; Orszag, Peter R.; Attanasio, Orazio P.; Szekely, Miguel; Holzman, Robert

Beyond Rosenstein-Rodan: the modern theory of underdevelopment traps (English)

The theme of this article is the importance, and the many causes, of low-level equilibrium "traps." Rosenstein-Rodan pointed out that spillovers may cause the return to an activity to increase with the number of others who undertake that activity. ... See More +

Working Paper 28725 APR 10, 2000

Hoff, Karla

The economics of rural organization : theory, practice, and policy (English)

Why have some rural development policies succeeded and others failed? The book sheds light on that question by defining a new branch of economics that explores economic relations in the rural sector of developing countries. ... See More +

Publication 11857 APR 30, 1993

Hoff, Karla; Braverman, Avishay; Stiglitz, Joseph E. [editors]

Title Document Date Report No. Document Type Also available in
Making up people -- the effect of identity on preferences and performance in a modernizing society (English)
See More +
OCT 01, 2012 WPS6223 Policy Research Working Paper
Tastes, castes, and culture : the influence of society on preferences (English)
See More +
AUG 01, 2011 WPS5760 Policy Research Working Paper
Equilibrium fictions : a cognitive approach to societal rigidity (English)
See More +
FEB 01, 2010 WPS5219 Policy Research Working Paper
Dysfunctional finance : positive shocks and negative outcomes (English)
See More +
JAN 01, 2010 WPS5183 Policy Research Working Paper
Caste and punishment : the legacy of caste culture in norm enforcement (English)
See More +
SEP 01, 2009 WPS5040 Policy Research Working Paper
Political alternation as a restraint on investing in influence : evidence from the post-communist transition (English)
See More +
OCT 01, 2008 WPS4747 Policy Research Working Paper
Spite and development (English)
See More +
MAY 01, 2008 WPS4619 Policy Research Working Paper
Exiting a lawless state (English)
See More +
FEB 01, 2008 WPS4520 Policy Research Working Paper
Joseph E. Stiglitz (English)
See More +
JAN 01, 2008 WPS4478 Policy Research Working Paper
The creation of the rule of law and the legitimacy of property rights : the political and economic consequences of a corrupt privatization (English)
See More +
DEC 01, 2005 WPS3779 Policy Research Working Paper
The kin system as a poverty trap? (English)
See More +
APR 01, 2005 WPS3575 Policy Research Working Paper
Belief systems and durable inequalities : an experimental investigation of Indian caste (English)
See More +
JUN 01, 2004 WPS3351 Policy Research Working Paper
The transition from communism : a diagrammatic exposition of obstacles to the demand for the rule of law (English)
See More +
JUN 01, 2004 WPS3352 Policy Research Working Paper
Homeownership, community interactions, and segregation (English)
See More +
MAY 01, 2004 WPS3316 Policy Research Working Paper
The World Bank research observer 18 (2) (English)
See More +
SEP 30, 2003 30257 Publication
Paths of institutional development : a view from economic history (English)
See More +
SEP 01, 2003 76448 Journal Article
After the Big Bang? Obstacles to the emergence of the rule of law in post-communist societies (English)
See More +
DEC 31, 2002 WPS2934 Policy Research Working Paper
Annual World Bank Conference on development economics - 2000 (English)
See More +
JUL 31, 2001 23244 Publication
Beyond Rosenstein-Rodan: the modern theory of underdevelopment traps (English)
See More +
APR 10, 2000 28725 Working Paper
The economics of rural organization : theory, practice, and policy (English)
See More +
APR 30, 1993 11857 Publication