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Isis Gaddis's blog

A glimpse behind the curtain: CPIs in Africa

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Also available in: Français

Consumer Price Indexes (CPIs) can be subject of heated debate. Plans by the US administration in 2013 to modify the way social security benefits are adjusted for inflation led to protests of federal workers. The new method, which involved a shift from one version of the CPI to another, was designed to make the adjustment more sensitive to consumer substitution behavior. For instance, consumers may shift from blueberries to strawberries if the price of blueberries increases disproportionately – failure to account for such behavior change leads to ‘substitution bias’ in the CPI. However, the move proved deeply unpopular, in part because it was perceived – in Paul Krugman’s words – as “purely and simply, a benefit cut”. Eventually, President Obama dropped the proposal.

Data gaps: The poor typical household surveys miss

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Also available in: Français

Standard measures of poverty and inequality are calculated at the household level—assuming resources are pooled and shared equally among its members. The World Bank Group’s new global poverty estimates, for example, are based on consumption per person—the average consumed by individuals within the household.
 
If consumption per person falls below the new global poverty line of $1.90 per day, everyone in the household is considered “poor.” If consumption is above the poverty line, no one in the household is considered “poor.” This measure is also used to monitor progress toward the first target of the newly agreed Sustainable Development Goals, to end extreme poverty by 2030.
 

Across the universe of firms in Tanzania

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Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.
In industrial countries, small and medium firms are the vectors of economic innovation and job creation. In the USA, small-businesses account for almost two-thirds of all net new job creation. They also contribute disproportionately to innovation, generating 13 times as many patents, per employee, as large companies do. Small business owners are also in general more educated and wealthier than the rest of the active population.
The reality is different in Tanzania. The vast majority of firms are very small and predominantly confined to self-employment. They are also highly concentrated in agriculture and trading activities:

- In 2010/11, there were approximately 11 million family-owned businesses operating in Tanzania, including farms. This is equivalent to a rate of entrepreneurship of 40 percent, which is about the rate reported in Uganda and Ghana, but three and 10 times higher, respectively, than in the United States and France.
- Half of the firms operating in Tanzania have only one employee, typically the owner; while an additional 40 percent report less than five employees. Firms with more than 10 workers represent only 0.6 per cent of the firms’ universe (still almost 70,000).

A bank in your pocket: The mobile money revolution in Tanzania

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Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.

The mobile phone is a truly novel device. It comes in just as handy and as easily when we need to communicate about the serious things as to chat about the simpler things in life.  Mobiles are not only being used as radios and flashlights but they are also delivering banking and financial services to those who urgently need them.

Increasingly, people around the world, especially in Africa, are paying their school fees, healthcare and utility bills using mobile phones today. Businesses use mobile money phones to pay their staff and suppliers. Poor people who have never entered a bank are using mobile services to send or receive remittances and to save their money.

Land of opportunity: Should Tanzania encourage more large-scale farming?

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Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.

Like most developing countries, more than 80 percent of the poor in Tanzania are to be found in rural areas. Nearly all of them are active in the agriculture sector as laborers or owners of a small piece of land that they cultivate for a living. In this context, land is a vital asset for food security and survival. In parallel, global population growth, rapid urbanization, and increases in incomes have resulted in a sharp increase in demand for agricultural products worldwide, leading to an expansion of cultivated area and leading investors to go out in search of new farmland.  The global search for farmland has intensified in sub-Saharan Africa, including Tanzania. 

Is Tanzania Raising Enough Tax Revenue?

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Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.

The overall tax burden in a country is largely determined by the role that citizens expect the State to play in the economy.  People are paying more taxes in France than in the US, not because the French are richer but because they expect more public services from their government.  For this reason, no single 'optimal' tax burden can be applied uniformly.Tanzania’s tax revenues by the central government were equivalent to 15.7 per cent of GDP in 2011/12.  This was higher than Uganda (12 per cent) but lower than Zambia (16.5 per cent) and Kenya (19.5 per cent).

Perilous pregnancies: How to improve maternal health in Tanzania?

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Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.

Pregnancy and childbirth can be a tremendously exciting time for a family if the expectant mother and her unborn child benefit from quality medical services and the baby is delivered in a safe environment. 

However, it can also be a traumatizing experience if the mother loses her life during childbirth or if the newborn is sick or dies. 

In Tanzania many mothers and mothers-to-be are dying young and unnecessarily as illustrated by the following statistics:

How can the mobile revolution lift up Tanzania’s poor?

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Let's think together: Every week the World Bank team in Tanzania wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a couple of questions. This post is also published in the Tanzanian Newspaper The Citizen every Sunday.

Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced a boom in mobile phone users over the past decade. The total number of cell phone subscriptions on the continent increased from just over 11 million in 2000 to 463 million in 2011 and is expected to grow even further. This technology not only affects day-to-day life and communication, but has the potential to boost economic development directly and indirectly.

In creating jobs, for instance, mobile phone technology has contributed towards the reduction of poverty. But more important are its indirect effects on the economy such as the increased connectivity of firms and micro-enterprises which increases their access to information and facilitates the movement of money through mobile transfers.

We want jobs, jobs, jobs

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Let's think together: Every week the World Bank team in Tanzania wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a couple of questions. This post is also published in the Tanzanian Newspaper The Citizen every Sunday.

Jobs are at the very heart of living. Families escape poverty when their members secure gainful employment, and societies flourish when labor markets offer a wide range of job opportunities to citizens. And there is more to jobs than just monetary benefits. Not having a job or working under unfavorable conditions is often associated with low individual life satisfaction. Youth unemployment, in particular, can undermine the foundations of social cohesion, especially in fragile countries with a legacy of civil unrest and conflict.

Only 14% of Tanzanians have electricity. What can be done?

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Let's think together: Every week the World Bank team in Tanzania wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a couple of questions. This post is also published in the Tanzanian Newspaper The Citizen every Sunday.

Energy fuels economic development and the evidence is before our eyes every day.  Businesses require a steady supply of energy to produce goods and services.  Electricity allows school children to study after sunset and hospitals need it to save lives Insufficient or irregular energy supply is associated with significant economic cost for businesses and households.  Lack of access to clean energy also creates a myriad of health and environmental hazards, such as indoor pollution from cooking on traditional open-fire stoves and deforestation.

Unfortunately, affordable access to clean energy remains an elusive dream for most Tanzanians, especially those living outside of urban centers and the poor: