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Assessing the Returns on Investment in Data Openness and Transparency

Megumi Kubota () and Albert G. Zeufack

No 9139, Policy Research Working Paper Series from The World Bank

Abstract: This paper investigates the potential benefits for a country from investing in data transparency. The paper shows that increased data transparency can bring substantive returns in lower costs of external borrowing. This result is obtained by estimating the impact of public data transparency on sovereign spreads conditional on the country's level of institutional quality and public and external debt. While improving data transparency alone reduces the external borrowing costs for a country, the return is much higher when combined with stronger institutional quality and lower public and external debt. Similarly, the returns on investing in data transparency are higher when a country's integration to the global economy deepens, as captured by trade and financial openness. Estimation of an instrumental variable regression shows that Sub-Saharan African countries could have saved up to 14.5 basis points in sovereign bond spreads and decreased their external debt burden by US$405.4 million (0.02 percent of gross domestic product) in 2018, if their average level of data transparency was that of a country in the top quartile of the upper-middle-income country category. At the country level, Angola could have reduced its external debt burden by around US$73.6 million.

Date: 2020-01-31
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