A concerted effort is being made by institutions like the World Bank to quantify various types of transaction costs incurred by businesses (Doing Business, Enterprise Surveys). The rationale for focusing on transaction costs (and reducing them) is usually couched in mainstream economic concerns. That is, in an attempt to increase growth rate of GDP per capita, create jobs, reduce poverty, and so on.
Major funders of public health research – the World Bank included – have today issued a joint statement to champion the wider sharing of data to achieve better public health worldwide.
|Mother and boy being attended to by Health Education nurse. Sri Lanka. Photo © Dominic Sansoni / World Bank|
This is a great step forward: advances in public health throughout the decades, perhaps like no other discipline, have been underpinned by careful research based on data. An early and celebrated example is the epidemiologist John Snow’s study of the relationship between the water supply and cholera outbreaks in central London in 1854, which used public data to establish the link between contaminated water and the disease. More recently, the mapping of the human genome was completed by a global collaborative effort based on the sharing of effort and data.
In many fields and in many countries, sharing of data is fast becoming normal practice (www.data.gov). An environment where data are open, freely available and easily accessible to all can provide tremendous benefits for development. At the World Bank we opened our databases last April. And there are great examples of agencies starting to routinely provide access to their datasets, which were previously closely guarded, such as data collected through household surveys.
"Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when a man has only one idea."
- Alain (Emile-Auguste Chartier), Propos sur la religion, 1938
Important developments today:
1. European shares fall on renewed debt worries
2. Industrial production picks-up in France
The World Bank has joined public and charitable funders in a new initiative to allow researchers and members of the scientific community to easily access public health data.
Much of the data collection that could improve public health research is expensive and time-consuming. Funders of this research believe that making research data sets available to investigators beyond the original research team in a timely and responsible manner, subject to appropriate safeguards, will generate three key benefits:
Remittances flows are increasing…
Mexico reported that remittances last November grew by 8.6% from a year ago. Despite falling remittances in 2008 and 2009, they remained flat for Jan-Nov of 2010 year-on-year.
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New Year’s resolutions are always of the lofty – but often short-lived kind. I will go to the gym more often, lose more weight, or volunteer more often than I do now. One resolution made by a number of us in the Research Group of the Bank – and elsewhere, has been to find a way to get more people excited about investing in data collection and analysis on trade. I recognize this is not the most glamorous of topics at any time of the year – but nonetheless a resolution as important as any made each year for decades as the calendar turns another page.
Here is why 2011 is different and resolutions made can be kept, however, and why data and research should be high on anyone’s development and trade agenda.
There were a number of high level dialogues in 2010 and 2011 related to global finance, trade, and development issues. These included the High Level Summit on the MDG’s in September 2010 and the G20 Summit in Seoul in November 2010. These events provided important opportunities -- in the post-crisis environment – to inform priorities going forward on aid effectiveness and trade. The President of the Bank, Mr. Zoellick, outlined in October 2010 -- in a very high profile speech at Georgetown University – a new vision of development economics which included new ways of looking at and advancing research tied to make aid more effective and inclusive.
Editor's Note: The following post was submitted jointly by Jake Kendall and Ignacio Mas of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
At the Financial Services for the Poor team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation we have made a deliberate choice to focus on promoting savings (you can read about our strategy here). We think that saving in a formal, prudentially regulated financial institution is a basic option that everyone should have. Having a safe place to save allows people to manage what little they have more effectively and to self-fund life-improving or productivity-enhancing investments without paying the high interest rates associated with small loans. Accessing other people’s money through credit may not be right for everyone, but making the most out of your own income surely is. From a donor perspective, we need to move beyond microcredit and support the development of broader markets. In fact, too much focus on microcredit risks tilting the incentives of local financial intermediaries to funding their credit portfolio from external soft funds rather than via mobilizing local deposits.
As I go around the world talking up these issues, I am struck by how often I need to justify the value of savings for poor people intellectually. Sure, we should do more to demonstrate these benefits with actual data, and we are funding a bunch of studies in this regard. But why is the notion so counter-intuitive for many people? I would trace that to two misconceptions and two fears.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
From Poverty to Power (Oxfam)
What does the future hold for civil society organization?
"I’ve been struggling to make sense of the changing landscape for civil society organizations, North and South, and could do with your help. Here are some initial thoughts, but please send in your own, plus useful references:
One door opens, another shuts
There are contradictory and ambiguous trends for civil society at national and global levels. On the plus side:
- Growing size, strength and sophistication at national level and globally of CSOs of all shapes, sizes and coalitions. (For an example, see previous post on the Global Campaign for Education)
- Recognition from other actors (international institutions, aid donors, TNCs) of the importance of CSOs as partners and stakeholders"