Syndicate content

November 2013

Social Mobility and Education

Servaas van der Berg's picture

In his post on this blog, Augusto Lopez-Claros correctly identifies illiteracy as an important factor in global inequality, and places the blame for much of the illiteracy that exists squarely at the feet of government choices. A perspective from South Africa – a country with extreme inequality – confirms that education may be the key to reducing inequality.

TS36-12 World Bank Not surprisingly, given their history, South Africans are obsessed with inequality. Income distribution features prominently in all political debates, in government policies and in the National Development Plan. Yet there is little understanding that the roots of this inequality lie in the labour market, particularly in the wage distribution, and that changing this distribution requires a dramatic improvement in the weak quality of most of South Africa’s schools.
 

Fresh off the Press: Global Financial Development Report 2014

Martin Cihak's picture

Global Financial Development Report 2014Today, the World Bank Group is issuing Global Financial Development Report 2014: Financial Inclusion. The report is the second in a new series on global financial development. It follows up on last year’s inaugural issue, which focused on rethinking the state’s role in finance.

Financial inclusion is a logical choice for the report’s theme. Access to financial services is crucial for reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity, as demonstrated by recently available data and evidence showcased in the report. At the same time, real-world financial systems are far from inclusive. Globally, 2.5 billion people—more than a half of the world’s adult population—have no bank accounts, lacking efficient mechanisms to save money and pay bills. A vast majority of the “unbanked” live in the developing world (figure 1).
The report comes at a propitious time, because financial inclusion has become a subject of heightened interest. Over 50 countries have recently committed to formal targets and goals for financial inclusion. And last month, during the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings, President Jim Yong Kim put the issue into spotlight by calling for universal financial access for all working-age adults by 2020.

Seeking Effective Policies to Promote Financial Inclusion

Margaret Miller's picture

The 2014 Global Financial Development Report, released today by the World Bank Group, presents the most comprehensive review to date of research findings on an increasingly prominent issue in international economic policy: financial inclusion. It also highlights several key topics that are linked to the growing interest in this topic – advances in technology, product design innovations and the role of financial education in financial inclusion. 

It’s easy to understand the focus on technology in this kind of report. Mobile phones and other telecommunications and digital technologies offer potential opportunities for the cost-effective expansion of financial services into previously overlooked or under-served markets. Technology is only part of the reason, however, for increased attention to financial inclusion. There is also a new appreciation for the role of financial services in the lives of the poor – an appreciation gained through a pioneering research effort using “financial diaries” methodology. This includes an awareness that even the best supply-side responses – often powered by new technologies – need to understand the demand side of the equation to be commercially successful and to offer value to consumers.

Aid on the Edge of Chaos, A Book You Really Need to Read and Think About

Duncan Green's picture

It’s smart, well-written and provides a deeper intellectual foundation for much of the most interesting thinking going on in the aid business right now. Ben Ramalingam (right)’s Aid on the Edge of Chaos should rapidly become a standard fixture on any development reading list.

The book argues for a major overhaul of aid in recognition that the world is made up of numerous interlocking complex systems, far removed from the assumed linear world of cause → attributable effect that underpins a lot of aid programmes. That fits pretty perfectly with a lot of the stuff on governance, institutional reform etc from ODI, Matt Andrews, and Oxfam’s own work, all covered on this blog. But it adds to it in important ways.

  • It deepens our understanding of complexity and systems thinking, drawing on a range of other disciplines
  • Much of the current aid thinking about complexity is happening in work on governance and (to a lesser extent) advocacy. The book widens the scope to just about every corner of the aid business – management, humanitarian, health etc
  • Its 25 great case studies will spark ideas in people’s heads about how they can apply the thinking in their own work

The argument is divided into three sections: a thorough critique of the current aid system; an introduction to complexity and systems thinking; and a final ‘so what’ section on the reform of aid.

Prospects Daily: Developing-country currencies weaken, Japan's current account balance jumps, China’s annual headline inflation edges higher

Global Macroeconomics Team's picture
Financial Markets… U.S. Treasuries fell the most in two months last Friday, with the benchmark 10-year yield jumping 15 basis points to a seven-week high of 2.75%, as a robust U.S. job data heightened speculation that the Federal Reserve will reduce its stimulus program sooner than expected. The bond market has been hit by a series of positive U.S. data points, which showed economic improvements. U.S. bond market is closed for Veterans Day on Monday.
 

“Sexual Violence is a Weapon of Mass Destruction”

Anne Senges's picture

Chemical, biological and nuclear weapons make the list of weapons of mass destruction, but Dr. Denis Mukwege, a gynecologist in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and one of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize nominees, wants to add one more: sexual violence. Every year, Panzi Hospital, which he founded in 2008 in the strife-torn Kivu Province in eastern DR Congo, treats 3,000 survivors of sexual violence. Then, through the Panzi Foundation, Dr. Mukwege works with equal fervor to reintegrate them into society. As part of our profile of news makers, we caught up with Dr. Mukwege while he was visiting the World Bank to speak at a seminar on the sexual violence in Kivu Province. “The Man Who Repairs Women,” the title of Mukwege’s biography by journalist Colette Braeckman, speaks about his fight.
 

Quote of the Week: David Letterman

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“I have found that the only thing that does bring you happiness is doing something good for somebody who is incapable of doing it for themselves.  It always works. It never fails.  And so I guess from that standpoint, it’s not generous. It’s really sort of selfish.”

- David Letterman, An American Television Host and Comedian.
 

What does "life expectancy at birth" really mean?

Emi Suzuki's picture



If a child is born today in a country where the life expectancy is 75, they can expect to live until they are 75… right?

Not exactly. 

The statistic “Life expectancy at birth” actually refers to the average number of years a newborn is expected to live if mortality patterns at the time of its birth remain constant in the future. In other words, it’s looking at the number of people of different ages dying that year, and provides a snapshot of these overall “mortality characteristics” that year for the population.


Pages