Charts of the week: Railways and enrollment in India, sales tax in the United States

Commuters wait at a railway platform in Mumbai, India.

Click on any of the links to access the full research.


India’s railway industry is on the wrong track

In a new report from Brookings India, Puneet Kamboj and Rahul Tongia describe the unsustainable nature of India’s railway industry and why it must implement reforms to stay solvent. According to the authors, the industry is heavily reliant on coal production as the railway’s business model is based on undercharging passengers and overcharging freight. However, due to the more efficient power plants, the rise of renewables, and other factors, the growth rate for coal demand is decreasing. In light of these developments, railways must look towards a different long term pricing strategy.

Historical trends of PKms & TKms and their respective revenues from FY 2006 to FY 2017

Measuring the success of development impact bonds for education 

In 2015, Educate Girls, a nonprofit organization in Rajasthan, India aimed at increasing girls’ access to quality education, entered a development impact bond (DIB) which Brookings scholars have followed closely. Emily Gustafsson-Wright and Izzy Boggild-Jones from the Global Economy and Development program recently wrote on the bond’s progress and report that it has had a tremendous impact on school enrollment, shown in the chart below, but warn that “impact bonds remain a complex and time-intensive mechanism.”

Growing rates and a shrinking base for the sales tax

Earlier this week, David Wessel and Vivien Lee from the Economic Studies program commented on a report presented at the 2018 Municipal Finance Conference and its findings on the retail sales tax. The report’s authors, John L. Mikesell and Sharon N. Kioko, show how the sales tax rate has steadily increased since the 1970s to make up for a shrinking tax base as displayed in the following charts.

Read Wessel and Lee’s full post for more information on the report’s findings and methodology.

Lea Kayali contributed to this post.