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Poverty

Seven steps to structural transformation

Shanta Devarajan's picture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My colleagues Justin Lin and Celestin Monga have proposed a six-step plan for identifying industries that could help developing countries industrialize. 

The first step in the plan is to find countries that have a per-capita income that is roughly double yours and have a similar endowment, and observe what they are producing.  These industries would then serve as the basis for possible government intervention to either protect or create, depending on the country’s situation.

However, the six-step plan seems to gloss over the fact that countries, even seemingly successful ones, produce certain goods for political rather than economic reasons. 

Evaluating Millennium Villages Revisited

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Although the members of the Millennium Village Project were unavailable (but have offered to hold a follow-up seminar in January), we held a seminar on the Clemens-Demombynes  paper to discuss different approaches to evaluating rural development programs.

Kenya’s telecom revolution and the impact of mobile money

Wolfgang Fengler's picture

Our third “Kenya Economic Update” – Kenya at the Tipping Point? – notes Kenya’s strong economic recovery in 2010 reaching 4.9 percent of GDP. For 2011, we forecast growth of 5.3 percent.  The special Focus on the ICT Revolution and mobile money captures the economic momentum which is now spreading across Africa. Kenya now has 21 million phone subscribers, the vast majority connected by cell phones.

Corruption in Kenya

Johannes Zutt's picture

On October 26, we learned that Kenya’s rank in Transparency Interational's  Corruption Perceptions Index dropped seven places since 2009.  Kenya now ranks 154 out of 178 countries—well below most of its EAC neighbors.  But how bad is it, in fact?  Will the new Constitution do anything to make the situation better?

In Kenya, no one seriously doubts that corruption is a key constraint to greater growth and prosperity. 

Corruption comes in two forms.  Petty corruption occurs when citizens are asked for kitu kidogo (“a little something”):  to get a document stamped, a service provided, or an infraction overlooked.  The amounts are small, but hardly petty to the many victims living on less than $1 a day.  Kenya also has large-scale corruption—public purchases made at inflated prices; public benefits handed out to people who are not entitled; fictitious companies being paid for contracts that they never executed. 

Les inondations en Afrique, ne pas reconstruire la pauvreté

Noro Andriamihaja's picture

Depuis ces dernières années, la région Afrique a été victime d’une série d’inondation répétitive, résultant de fortes pluviométries, qui non-seulement sont de plus en plus fréquentes mais dont l’ampleur s’intensifie. Pour ne citer que le cas du Togo, qui depuis 2007, ne cesse de subir les effets de  fortes pluies tous les ans; à Madagascar, les fortes tempêtes tropicales Ivan et Jowke ont affecté une bonne partie de l’ile en 2008. En 2009, la  Namibie, la République Centrafricaine, le Burkina Faso, le Mali, le Sénégal, et la Mauritanie ont consécutivement été touchées.

A New Constitution for Kenya

Johannes Zutt's picture

I am often asked whether Kenya's new constitution, approved in a referendum in August 2010, will actually improve governance in Kenya.  There are many people who seem to believe that it will not.  A prominent journalist was recently quoted  in Nairobi's Daily Nation  as saying that the constitution is just a piece of paper, and "a piece of paper can't transform society". I disagree. 

Too little knowledge is a dangerous thing

Jishnu Das's picture

Stefan Dercon’s wordle based on our data of the countries that economists work on led Chris Blattman and Tyler Cowen to wonder why there are more papers on Latin America relative to Africa in the Journal of Development Economics, a leading journal in the field of development economics. We looked at this issue in our paper onthe Geography of Academic Research; here are four figures to add to the discussion (two of them are in our paper).

Fact 1: “Just” Income: There is a strong correlation between GDP and publications—a doubling of GDP leads to a 37 percent increase in the number of publications on the country. The US is bang on the regression line relating GDP to publications—a lot more is produced on the US because it is big and rich. Surprisingly, most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are also on the regression line! In fact, there is no “SSA penalty” in the production of empirical research—there is very little work on most SSA countries mostly because they are poor and small.  That 36,649 papers were written on the US between 1985 and 2004 relative to 4 on Burundi, 5 on Benin or 20 on Niger is largely explained by income and population size. As Bill Easterly puts it “the poor get the worst of everything, including the worst economics”.

Evaluating the Millennium Villages: Reply to the MVP + Upcoming Seminar with Comments from Jeff Sachs

Gabriel Demombynes's picture

The following post was co-authored by Michael and Gabriel.

The Millennium Village Project (MVP) is an important, experimental package of interventions that the United Nations and Columbia University are testing in 14 villages across Africa. The MVP offers a tremendous opportunity to learn whether such interventions can catalyze self-sustaining growth and escape from extreme poverty. But the evaluation approaches currently being used cannot generate convincing evidence of the Project’s impacts. Without such evidence, it will be impossible to generate the billions of dollars needed to scale up the Project approach across Africa, as its proponents hope to do.

We have written a new research paper (summarized here and here) that proposes small and inexpensive modifications to the MVP evaluation approach that would make it possible to evaluate the Project’s impacts.

That paper has generated much discussion, including reports in the Financial Times and in a major newspaper in Kenya. The Project itself has issued a lengthy official response by Pronyk, McArthur, Singh, and Sachs. We welcome this public debate as a way to improve learning about what works in development. We answer below the main questions posed in the Project’s response, much of which rests on a basic misunderstanding.

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